DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY
PICTURE OF AMERICAN LIFE.
WILLIAM GILES DIX.
GEORGE P. PUTNAM & CO.
/ . /.I
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853, by
WlLLUM G. Dix,
in the Clerk's OflSce of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts
METCALP AND COMPANT,
PRINTERS TO THE UNIVERSITY.
THIS VOLUME IS CORDIALLY INSCRIBED
KICHARD H. DANA,
An American, who, had he lived in England, would no
doubt have added himself, by copious fruits of meditation and
fancy, to the illustrious line of great English poets, but whose
life, being cast in a country not ripe to enjoy " divine philos-
ophy," and its
" perpetual feast of nectared sweets,
Where no crude surfeit reigns,"
has been one of comparative silence, yet whose deep-toned
harp breathes into many ears inspiring cadences, and grieves
hearts also with the sure conviction, that, in time to come, the
stifling of such music will bring upon the land more just igno-
miny than can be compensated in honor by all the swift yachts,
patent locks, six-barrelled revolvers, steamships without bow-
sprits, and metropolitan hotels, that can be invented between
now and the Day of Judgment.
The larger part of this volume was printed
nearly a year ago, but was thrown aside from
dissatisfaction, and with the intention to recon-
struct the whole from the beginning. The book
has been recently resumed and finished, accord-
ing to the first plan, with as deep a consciousness
as ever of its defects of style, but with no essential
distrust of its general sentiment. The specula-
tions upon the purposes of Young America will
seem to follow the public cry, but they were in
print before the phrase became a byword.
Cambridge, January, 1853.
DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
On the day when a steamship arrives at New
York from Chagres, bringing a freight of gold-
dust and news of more to come, the national
symbol may be said to appear, expanding his
wings from the Battery upward as far as one can
ride for sixpence ; — and that is a long space,
for a man from the interior of the State or of
the Nation, being at the mercantile head-quarters
of his country, may enter one of the vehicles, in
which six persons may look six others out of
countenance in a short time, while a seventh
intruder is threatened with a lasting obliqueness
of sight, from having no one directly to stare
at, and being obliged to divide his regards be-
tween two faces, each but half opposite to his, —
the stranger may enter one of these bulky boxes,
2 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
at the corner of a street, far below zero, and
thence may be jolted noisily to the neighbor-
hood of number fifty. There, paying the fare,
he may stumble out of the equipage with glee,
supposing that he must have been mistaken for
the passenger who entered but two streets below,
and who, he imagines, will have to foot the bill
of his cheap excursion. Thus pleasantly dis-
posed, he may walk back leisurely, finding in
the windows of the shops an ample scope for
what the transcendental sages would call objec-
tive amusement. The purchase, at auction, of a
watch, or of a few articles of jewelry, may alone
convince him that New York has less remunera-
tive uses for rustic capital than riding in an
The presence of this immense eagle enlivens
the whole city, and every nerve that centres in
the brain of Wall Street thrills beneath the ex-
hilarating touch of the air. Speculative ardors
are peculiarly enkindled, although there is, daily,
much speculation, interesting to one party or the
other, and sometimes to both. Practical gen-
tlemen, who never express opinions of enter-
prises until they see their tangible fruits, poise
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 6
thoughtfully some of the heavy yellow crumbs in
their hands, and pronounce the Californian ex-
citement to be a very respectable affair.
Every feather of the eagle trembles with ec-
stasy, his eyes look like two planets visible at
noon, and his screams of delight are audible for
miles. He is not content to remain stationary,
but, compressing his form, makes use of the gal-
vanic wires, and flies over the country, declaring
everywhere the receipts of gold, and the discov-
ery of new mines, which last continue to be
very productive in the public journals, until pas-
sengers are engaged, and their fares paid, for
the next steamer bound for the Isthmus, when it
sometimes falls out that their value is less than
was at first reported.
The eagle dilates his size at frequent inter-
vals in his journey, to the pleasurable amazement
of the people. His rays make the whole air
shine wherever he goes ; eyes look up enchanted,
and the brains to which they convey the news
of his arrival are also fired with the splendor.
When the wires fail, he condescends to use the
slower conveyances of steam, and occasionally he
perches himself upon the top of an old stage.
4 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
"where he gleams like a sun, on an excursion of
pleasure. He employs editors to convey his
news where he cares not himself to go, and he
rewards these faithful deputies with his bright
smiles, and sometimes with likenesses of himself,
set in gold. As he passes over roads, embroid-
ered with fields of wheat, the husbandmen shade
their eyes from the reflected glare of their
scythes, and looking up, perceive the cause of
the dazzling light; then, suspending their toil,
they repair to the nearest inns to hear the last
intelligence from the mines. The stagemen are
always proud of their outside passenger, who,
shouting and shining in his revelry, startles every
neighborhood with his brightness and noise.
Finally, on completing his luminous circuit
over mountains, lakes, and rivers, he repairs to
the Falls of Niagara, to remain there until an-
other arrival summons him away. He enthrones
himself high among the vapors, which rather in-
crease than dim his effulgence, and he buoys his
immensity in a way unknown. He expands his
wings so widely, that one may reflect the first
beams of the sun, and the other the last, ex-
tending his left wing over the Atlantic sea, on
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 5
account of the unequal width of land to be over-
spread. Thus imperially placed, he looks with
some scorn on the unproductive, watery glories
beneath, makes the arch of inwoven rays of
mercy, truth, and beauty his footstool, mingles
w^ith the ascending music his shrill cries of gold !
gold! gold! and acknowledges, with ceaseless
vibrations of his glittering beak and fiery eyes,
the adoration paid to him by innumerable bend-
ed knees or prostrate faces.
Multitudes now ponder the design of searching
for the rich treasures, of which such brilliant
promises have been lavished abroad, indorsed by
actual success. Every generous or selfish mo-
tive for accumulation is excited, and all purposes
for which money can be spent to purchase pleas-
ure are entertained by the fancy. Every social
rank and every calling feels its degree of the
reflective influence. The Western hunter, taking
up the last journal that has reached his secluded
abode, and reading its alluring intelligence, lays
aside his faithful rifle, with which he has hunted
the swift and graceful deer, that, startled by his
rustling step in her quiet solitude, has cast one
vain glance at the clear brook at her side, and
6 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
then fled, for safety, to the depth of the tangled
forest: he resolves to go in chase of the gold-
bearing quartz. The farmer, visiting his brown
acres, and seeing how slowly springs up the
grain which he has planted, reflecting how much
rain and sunshine must fall upon the earth, how
much toiling culture he must himself expend,
before the sheaves will stand before him, good
sentinels against the scourge of want, determines
to change his farm to a geological investment of
another kind, more portable, and yielding quicker
dividends. The fisherman, who has labored dili-
gently with his hook and line for the lively, shining
treasures of the " Banks," deems it well to visit
the banks in the opposite section of the continent,
which yield a discount to persistent spades. The
keeper of the shop is ready to forsake his Cash-
mere vale of luxurious goods, visited by lovelier
guests than ever breathed the air of Persia, con-
cluding, after many sighs, that it will be as cap-
tivating to sift gold through iron sieves, as to
receive it, with the bright usury of smiles, from
hands that make the lilies envious.
The young lawyer, who has opened his ofiice
to adjust family quarrels and other disputes at
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 7
fair prices, but who finds that legal brethren,
as briefless as himself, instead of clients, " come
in" at his call, — who may have made his first
plea in trying to save his flesh-colored library
from the jaws of an execution, and may have
written fewer lawyer's letters than he has re-
ceived, — feels inclined, after summing up his
case, to promote the sovereignty of justice and
his personal fortune in California. The surgeon,
of narrower ministration than is comfortable, who
keeps his instruments ever bright, that, when
required, they may work brilliantly, believes that
it will be philanthropic to exert his skill, now
lying fallow, in the relief of much unforeseen suf-
fering in the new settlements, being certain that,
if he cannot apply the lancet to the vital courses
of other people, he can, at least, use a pickaxe
on the harder veins, that supply many wants of
life. The clergyman, knowing that his appropri-
ate province lies wherever men are found, if,
while valuing truth supremely, he disallows, by
his example and his word, the reclusive sanctity
which frowns on doing good to men ; feeling that
the love of God, the germ, however sadly worn
by time, of the Atlantic settlements, should not
8 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
yield wholly to the love of gold, the principle of
the Pacific State, prepares to depart with the
crowd, that he may help in guiding aright the
luxuriance of a nation's rugged life.
Beside the delegation from New York in every
steamer for Chagres, and others more or less fa-
miliar with the city, strangers arrive from every
quarter, who have never seen the Atlantic metrop-
olis before, except in their dreams, when it has
appeared about as large as all the capitals of Eu-
rope together, and the famous fountain in the Park
has thrown its waters so far and high, that they
are sure it must be seen for many miles at sea.
Sight surpasses their previous fancy, and some one
more astounded than the rest may really conclude
that no larger city ever was or could be built on the
face of the earth, and he may wonder why people
should still think of extending it. After much
attentive walking about, they return to their inns
at a loss whether they are distracted or enchanted,
but, as it costs something to reach the city and to
stay in it, they incline to beheve themselves pleas-
urably excited. The city regards her rural ad-
mirers with very little of the astonished rapture
with which they gaze upon her.
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 9
The strangers and residents, who intend taking
passage for the Isthmus, whether familiar or not
with steamships, have a presage of the trouble of
embarking, which is fully met when they reach
the neighborhood blackened by the vast moving
tower. The host of excited people there seems
like one great human monster, very uneasy and
trying to move in diverse ways at once. The
consciousness of being vexed is the only pledge of
personality. The tumult discomposes every man ;
and the strongest nerves, as in other panics, draw
to the extent of their available tension, and the
weakest follow the usual course in such cases, and
do as they can. Most of the passengers are of
the enterprising kind of people who have never
learned to move slowly, and ask of others no favor
but to make room ; and that often in tones far
from courtly, that grate on sensitive ears. Reli-
ance on self is their ruling star, and any resist-
ance to its spell sets their energies on fire.
The whole structure is marvellous to eyes that
may never have beheld such things, except when
an over-indulgence in distilled harvests may have
summoned images of terror before the couch
of satiety. The passenger, especially if he be un-
10 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
used to such scenes, fears, from the prevailing
hurry, that he will be too late, and, in his reckless
apprehension, he may seize roughly hold of the
first man without a coat whom he meets, and ask
him if he be a porter, or one of those useful as-
sistants may prevent such rudeness by a volun-
tary proffer of service, for a price. His trunks
and boxes, containing, beside his own property, a
few small parcels committed to his care for friends
in California, lie in confusion before him: the
crowd presses by in nervous haste ; some indi-
viduals, fixing their eyes on the goal more than on
the way, stumble over his heap of baggage, and,
springing up bruised all over, glare at him fierce-
ly, and add unlovely expressions ; losing his control
over himself, in his despair, he gives a quarter of
a dollar to each of three little staring colored boys
iftar him, either from a vague belief that the gift
will facilitate his affairs in some magical way, or
simply as a token of his manly faith in the unity
of the race ; he thinks that he hears the wheels
moving, and that he may as well turn and go home ;
but the porter has already in his arms a part of his
luggage, and now he has a new trouble: he is in
doubt whether to go with him, and see that he puts
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 11
safely on board the goods that he has taken, or
to stay, guarding what remains ; there is no time
for delay; he intrusts a valuable trunk to a man,
who may be a pattern of every moral virtue, but
whom he never saw before, and watches for him
to return and take the rest of his equipment, that
he may reach the deck at last, if he can, with no
immediate responsibilities behind.
At length, after reaching the ship, he pays the
porter's fee with a sunny suavity that adds to it
one third more value, arranges in his dark but
snug quarters the goods and chattels which he
allows to himself for the voyage, sees the rest
stowed in a close and gloomy prison, and having
thus gone through his part in the lively drama,
with much silent applause from himself, he as-
cends to the upper deck, and strives to appear as
quietly as if his only motive for being there were
to study humanity under excitement. He looks
with thoughtful complacency upon the struggling
crowd below, playing a much involved game of
cross-purposes ; and, puzzled out of his senses as
he w^as, and having drawn them back by main
force only, commends his superior presence of
mind, and feels like a hero who has been in the
12 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
Now composed, he removes the perspiration
from his face, and takes from his hat the daily
Journal, which he bought at the steps of his hotel
from the young vender, whom he counselled, with
a genuine interest in his health, to soothe his voice
with some emollient compound, which the youthful
speculator promised, if he could have a double
price for his paper ; and, on his suggestion being
kindly met, moved away with his coppers and
other extras, shouting his intellectual wares more
hoarsely than ever.
He begins to read the discourse of the editor,
aiming to show that the members of the Execu-
tive Cabinet, so far from feeling any jar in their
consultations about the national welfare, resemble,
in their attachment to the good of the Republic,
the spokes of a wheel ; not one spoke being
crooked, out of place, or unfavorable to the
adjustment of ways and means by which the
wheel of state revolves easily, swiftly, and musi-
cally along the path of manifest destiny.
Soon finding that his attentive power is less
than he supposed it to be, he looks up and around,
and on the paper again, which is now turned to
an ocean of discord, where ideas united once, and
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 13
treating of unity in others, are wrenched out of
shape, and dislocated spokes, tires, and hubs cross
each other every way, while national destinies,
passengers, trunks, iron houses packed in boxes,
like sections of sea-serpents, to be put together
again elsewhere, steam-engines, editors, and con-
stitutional advisers, are beaten about, as if they
were contending with a tornado from one quarter
and a Gibraltar current from another. To sober
his brain, he folds up the paper, puts it in his hat,
and looks about on the deck. The spectacle of
the thronging men, having in the main a common
destination, but of various traits and motives, sug-
gests to him many thoughts on the new tide of
If young men are Young America, there are
many members here of that ideal community
of persons, who can have little concert with
Young England, if this brotherhood be really de-
signing to restore the Middle Ages, and to bend
the world again to the pressure of the feudal
yoke. The most cordial American admirer of
that period would hardly wish to retract from the
world's history the name and voyages of Colum-
bus, or even those of the less noble Spanish ad-
14 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
venturers who came after him, and to revive the
civil, social, and sacrificial polities of the Aztecs
and of the Incas, with the wilder usages of the
aborigines, more rough and red, dispersed in
regions farther north.
During the Middle Ages, the only monastic re-
cluses in America were the vast forests, which,
clad in emerald vestments, an order of their own,
or in brown, or pearly white, bowed their sup-
pliant heads in unison,, and sighed their prayers
upon the whispering winds ; while the sun, the
abbot of the order, paid his matinal and vesperal
homage, kneeling at daily consecrated altars,
flaming with every kind of precious radiance, in
the eastern and western chancels of the abbey of
the blue horizon, and devoutly proffered, through
the duteous hours, his service of refulgence ; the
choristers, that chanted the breviary of gladness,
with no days of sorrow interspersed, were the
fathers of mighty tides, the waterfalls radiant
with mist, the lakes, seas, oceans, striking the
keys of instrumental shores, and the birds, war-
bling in the seclusions of their oaken screens ;
the only illuminated missals were the leaves of
autumn, signals of the years that, crowned with
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 15
glories, die patiently by frosty pain, that other
years may spring to life ; the only rosaries were
the changes which the faithful seasons told in
the vigils of their journeys ; the only adoring
incense was the fragrance flung from floral cen-
sers, waving with voluntary motion in the air ;
the only consecrated bells that summoned nature's
agencies to worship were hung high in towers of
dark, shadowy clouds, and their great tongues of
awful sound were made to beat by chains of fire ;
the only pilgrimages were made by crowds of re-
joicing winged life, from regions invaded by win-
ter to shrines of constant summer ; the only wars
and tournaments were those of scattered savage
tribes, for every residence of earthly beauty that
man once sees he is sure to mark with blood.
Young America seldom glances to those ages,
•called dark by many, chiefly because neither the
streets of the cities, the aisles and altars of the
churches were lighted by inflammatory gas, nor
private houses in the same way, or by explosive
fluids, occasionally fatal to people who desire
the lightest light the lightest age can give ; and
because the meditative men, who lived by breath-
ing the oppressive air, supposed to have over-
16 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
spread the world then Uke a huge black mantle,
through which the stars looked like eyes of tigers
seen through the grim tempest of a tropic night,
— because these men, not being all their days
intent on means to render this life excessively
convenient, sometimes made fantastic flights of
logic, to define the feats of sprightly angels, it
passing notice that these vagaries occurred in
the course of contemplation on sublimer matters
than concern '' this punctual spot," and that
thoughtful men, even now, might divine the
antics of equally volatile and gymnastic spirits ;
as, for instance, how small a force of that much
adored archangel, steam, would send five hundred
human beings into the air, to a height of eighty
feet nine inches, allowing but one twentieth of
the number to come down alive ; or how many
of those singing seraphim revolvers, patented
by fatherly governments desiring to please their
playful children, would shoot every tenth man in
the street ; or how many of those flashing cherubs,
bowie-knives, would decimate the rest of the
citizens with their sharp wings, the recipients of
the angelic goodness to be speedily borne home
to gentle wives and prattling children.
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 17
Whatever the members of Young America may
think of "- laws and learning," they would not
respond, " Let trade and commerce die"; and
they hold not in special honor the " old nobility "
of any time or country. The whimseys of these
hasty words of youth should be forgiven, since
they signify a spirit that deems not the strife
for riches the divinest thing on earth. If there
be here no prerogatives of birth, and but few to
wish them to be kept, wherever they may be, at
the hazard of humanity, yet, if the " old nobihty "
of Philosophy, w^ho draw revenues of wisdom from
tenantries of thoughtful years, bequeathe to after
times estates rich in the castles, parks, and fertile
acres of Truth, and store the treasures of medi-
tation in palaces of crystal beauty, bright wdth
the gathered rays of every nation's mind ; if the
royal host of Imagination, gleaming with sceptres
and diadems of grace, informing nature with spirit-
ual glory, from this single earth to every sphere,
of steady or of twinkling beams, which Science
through pure convexities can see, or with construc-
tive figures build in space beyond the reach of
sharpest aids of sight, breathing throughout the
air entrancing harmonies, setting the histories of
18 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
nations in immortal gold, and changing the lives,
toils, passions, Avoes, defeats, and victories of men
into glad or sorrowful shapes of beauty, quivering
with the pulses of conceptive mind ; if this peer-
age, wearing coronets at the court of queenly
contemplation, and this enthroned regality of light,
receiving homage from the loyal ages, are to be
despoiled of their rights and domains by legions of
reckless Enterprise, — then let that Vandal and
his crew begone, to work harmless ruin in un-
shapen chaos, and distract no more this august
and beauteous Universe.
Thus far the spirit of the West, had she a
voice, sighing among the noises of machinery
and the screaming of steam-whistles, not for a
place to think, for there is room enough, but for
the liberty of thought and fancy's flight, would
echo the protest, meant uprightly, but expressed
with heedless heat, against an age irreverent of
aught but transient and material good.
If it be of little moment whether or not men be
on the way towards Heaven, if they can but cross
the ocean in a Aveek ; if Art must yield her prov-
inces to the sharp, colored outlines of Geology,
resembling rainbows exploded usefully into heaps
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 19
of disorderly and awkward angles ; if the affluence
of Eternity can suggest no Epic or Dramatic ca-
dences, because men have no time to be inspired
by other muses than can sing statistics, or descrip-
tions so exquisite that it shall be harder to see
the picture of the mazy verses than to follow the
shyest differential sign through starry labyrinths
of space ; if it is to be a traveller's chief object
here to know the cost, color, and dimensions of a
flaming steamer, plying up and down the Mississip-
pi, glorious for wrecks, until her turn shall come to
explode magnificently, or to die breathing fire, to
begin again and continue longer, — or to estimate
the exact quantity of water pouring over Niagara
in a minute, and to apply a measuring-line to the
most striking points of view ; or if people are to
travel in the old hemisphere in the sunlight and
shadow of nature and of history, using their per-
ception only, unmindful that the chief use of the
voices and of the visible splendors of the globe
is to widen and deepen reflection, to refine the
imagination, and to fasten the tendrils of the
soul more closely to the Throne above ; if the
surveyor of the line of a projected railroad is
to be the highest reach of man ; if Heaven
20 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
itself is to be set forth as a noisy Paradise,
where subUmated ship-builders and engineers
contrive and effect their plans to the minstrelsy
of chanting saws and warbling locomotives ; if
classical times, or any ages of mental splendor,
are to be laughed at, because no iron tracks were
then spread over the earth, the veins of a more
easy than exalted life, or vessels, shaped like
winged wedges, to cut the surface of the ocean
swiftly, or to sink, if they must, gently and con-
veniently ; if victorious yachts are to enjoy ova-
tions, and toiling scholars to be denounced as
idlers ; if that is to be emblazoned as the holiest
miracle of time, which subjected plebeian, dingy
coals to such inspiring heat that they were just
ready to turn, shrieking with the fiery pain, to
white, angelic diamonds ; if it is to be the fortieth
article of faith, that the House of Glass, though
taken down, will be put together again, and be
transported visibly by seraphic battalions, clad, for
compliment's sake, in the attire of all nations, to
the fairest island of the blest, to amaze for ever
the illuminated saints, who consider ornamental
furniture superior to intellectual grace or spiritual
beauty ; if every flower of the spirit is to be with-
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 21
ered by the deadly day of energy intent on lifeless
things ; — then welcome again the lunar splendor,
moving orbs, and golden suns of night.
From east to west, from wxst to east, may
the resistance to usurping powers grow, until the
true sovereignty shall regain her rightful throne
and sceptre. Then, after a century of longer pu-
pilage, the imagination here shall be ready to ex-
alt her pinions to the Sun, and more appreciative
thanks shall be felt and given for the intangible
but precious dowries that now sustain the new
world's mental life. For
Whoe'er shall o'er the snowy Andes roam,
Shall find Cervantes near those heights at home.
No name of splendor shines upon the page
Of Spain, diffusing light from age to age.
But there, enthroned o'er vales of beauty, lives,
And Avith the majesty of nature strives.
So he, whose ashes, guarded well, repose
Near where the illustrious Avon's current flows,
Is not his native land's alone ; — his name
For that, for this, for the whole world we claim.
Men's souls, true magnets, his attraction know ;
Cold hearts, submissive to his ardor, glow ;
22 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
Sad spirits aloft with his wings gaily soar ;
Scholars prefer his voice to Roman lore ;
The sober quaff his full and Hvely cup ;
His silvery tones make Mammon to look up.
The bank of reason ; treasury of sense ;
Imagination's empire ; fancy's tents ;
The fire of eagles' sight ; eyes of the dove ;
The passions' armory ; the bowers of love ;
Reflection's temple ; nature and the world.
Standards of light upon man's march unfurled ; —
His willing cadences such duties serve ;
Faint, weary wills his liberal muses nerve ;
Motives, in hosts, coursing, like eagles, high
In the horizon of humanity,
Wheel their swift, thronging flight his presence
The inciting, glorious melodies to hear.
Which, sovereign bard, he sings, enthroned sub-
To nations listening in the halls of Time.
Many, who ne'er a royal crown have seen.
Attend the Court held by the Faery Queen,
Where spread the holy rays from Una's face.
The chosen mirror of most saintly grace ;
THE BECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 23
While valiant knights press to the martial hall.
To answer, each, to memory's shrill roll-call.
Triumphs of honor and of valor won,
Fair deeds of goodness, wTongs and errors done,
The moral virtues wdiich in man should dwell.
Their lessons teach, in falls of music, w^ell.
Glow thick, bright leaves of Transatlantic bays
With laurels offered to his worthy praise.
Whose spirit, bereft of its organic sight.
Coursed, like yon Sun, in more ethereal light,
Visions sublime as those of prophets saw,
Or those when thunders heralded the Law.
Before him oped the gates of God's abode ;
And glaring spheres unblest perspectives showed.
His wand anew made sinless Eden spring.
And o'er unruly Chaos set a King,
Conducted seraphs to converse with man.
Ere from chief help his bitterest W'Oe began.
Summoned to the ear adoring minstrelsies.
And choral sounds of hissing blasphemies.
Depicted every archangelic grace,
Satan's defiant and malignant face.
Made hearts beat quick, portraying fearfully
The Trinal Throne of Trinal Deity.
24 TUE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
His well-wrought temple throughout time shall be
The home on earth of heavenly harmony,
Till o'er the globe no floods of wrong shall pour,
Till men benighted see the dawn once more,
And when their errors shall to naught have waned,
Breathe life divine in Paradise Regained.
Would that men ever lived, content, like him.
Dear sight to feel to beauteous nature dim,
Hearts broken, too, by contumely intense.
Through fervent work in Liberty's defence.
The bold, untutored tinker's regal beams
The sleeping soul awake with dawning dreams.
Through iron bars glowing the way to show.
How shackled hearts may truest freedom know ;
How men of grief may be with gladness blest,
And pilgrims weary reach a place of rest ;
How falls repeated may give strength to fly.
And rivers dark lead upward to the sky ;
How to the poor may richest boons be given.
And sons of earth inherit holy Heaven.
Here no renowned and ancient Abbey springs.
Where Fame exultant spreads her golden wings
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 25
O'er names of those who noblylived, or died,
The sons of Britain, but the whole earth's pride,
Yet many a one who ne'er may see that shrine
To what in man is nearest to divine,
Nor thoughtful o'er its honored pavement stroll,
May have a '^ poet's corner " in his soul,
And storied names and deeds of glory there
May presence more than memory's record share.
Here pensive tears from many eyes are shed
O'er the sad name of Missolonghi's dead,
Grieving so soon was quenched his brilliant ray,
So early set his intellectual day.
His home ancestral, desolate, intwined
With splendors heavenly bright, set forth his mind.
Not broken wholly by time's constant flood.
That stately, old, and hallowed structure stood.
Various benignant graces there allied.
Dispensing beauty, ranged on every side.
Till crumbling walls to tempered glory grew ;
Windows, once stained with every holy hue,
Now richly shone with sober stains of time
And verdure mixed, emblazoned by the prime.
In corridors, low, suppUant echoes still
There seemed to breathe, sonorous chimes to fill
26 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
The measured air abroad ; again the shrine
Summoned the worship of the time benign,
When to the gorgeous chapel's roof ascended
The choral hymns with clouds of incense blended.
As if the poet's very soul had known
A glorious life, which since afar had flown,
It now, renouncing former sacred use,
Resigned to revelry's unkind abuse.
Subdued the passions' yoke of fire to wear.
The kneeling, lowly heart most wanting there,
Inspiring, noble in its ruins, showed
Likeness to that once consecrate abode.
On such must woes in heavy numbers press.
Too much distraught for household tenderness.
Rightly he knew his art's true province well,
Less with the outward universe to dwell.
Than man's informing nature to rehearse,
Less inventories to compose in verse
Of flowers, as if the fragrant textures frail
Were to be offered plausibly for sale.
Or to frame timid couplets soft to cheer
And please a pensive maiden's twihght ear.
Than to man's conscious, eager sight to bring
His beating heart, its energies to sing.
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 27
Hence, tho' with grievous wrongs and woes beset.
He holds his firm, majestic station yet.
Hence, searching eyes can find no worthier one,
To fill the five, that Chaucer's name begun.
Sank suddenly a graceful spirit to sleep.
Beneath Italia's angry, frowning deep,
Who, thoughtful o'er the mysteries of life.
Turned sunny youth to stern, discursive strife,
To solve the reason, in a world so fair.
Of evil, cankering, darkening all the air.
Striving in vain to see the cause apart
From deep perversion of man's wayward heart,
Upon his doubting way he wandered far
Beyond the radiance of the eastern star,
And gasped his life away, too soon again
To find the path of surest faith for men.
He wrought and erred, desiring human good ;
. Let mercy trust, that, rising o'er the flood.
He dazzled out his unbelievino; nio;ht
In sudden brightness of unending light.
The more a man is he who seeks for day.
Than he who sighs not for Truth's open way ;
An erring mind may be by grace forgiven,
A stagnant soul can have no place in Heaven.
28 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
Others, with life's full, genial compass blest,
Like setting suns, yet linger in the West.
The living bards may seas of blessing lave ;
May brightest dews adorn the mountain grave,
And fragrances perennial bless the bowers.
Where contemplation ruled the tranquil hours ;
May the glad music of the running brook.
The gaily rustling leaves that on it look.
The merry birds, joyous cascades, unite
A strain of sorrow in their full delight
For him who used, with thoughtful feet, to press
The paths of earth's secluded loveliness.
May wafted memories of a peaceful life.
Remotely spent afar from constant strife.
Blessing the air, for ages long endure.
May every figured thought, exalted, pure.
Refresh the heart, stifled by earthly dust.
And brush away obscuring, sordid rust.
May the sure presence of a right intent
Sorrow allay that vigor was not bent.
With zeal more urgent, and Avith impulse bold.
To grasp man's heart, and keep the nervous hold.
May the* time past suffice for deeming man
The mere appurtenance to nature's plan.
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 29
When, without him, Creation's wide domain
Is but a waste of beauty spread in vain.
To be the fixture of this large estate
Answers not man's divinely ordered fate :
When earth began, he was its viceroy made.
And so shall be, until the earth shall fade :
For man were lifted these high azure walls ;
For man were garnished these mosaic halls ;
For man melodious voices here are heard ;
For man sprang order at the Maker's word.
Not in the dusky distance meant to stand,
Man claims the foreground from the painter's hand.
Not Nature's menial, but her titled guest,
With fadeless orders glancing on his breast.
'T is not the time to adore the varied gleams
Of lakes and mounts, of stars and tidal streams,
When living souls of living men repine
For the quick, living touch of fire divine ;
Or life derived, an idol, to revere,
When that life's spring, the living God, is near.
The subtile law of space, where'er it flows.
Claims not to be the Sovereignty, but shows
Itself the mirrored force, the shade to be,
The ethereal minister of Deity.
Hence not for homage has erected been
This vast cathedral, but to worship in ;
30 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
The rays which o'er its domes and altars gleam
Are symbols, not the soul, of Power Supreme.
May the new, strenuous world and cultured old
With every year more vigorously hold
Each other, firmly hearty hands retain,
Binding around the voluntary chain.
Though civil bonds roughly sharp swords may
May ties of loyal mind endure for ever,
And every heart with joy due honors pay
To England, empress of our mental day,
The favorite isle of all that billows know,
The shining lamp where nations learn to glow,
For glorious years, as she hath been, to be
The Mount of Light, caged in the northern sea.
But many noisy teachers of Young America,
friends of Epicurus, who, were he now alive,
would not be seen reposing in the shade, from
dawn to sunset, listening to music, and fanned
by fragrant airs, but rather, seated in his damask
easy-chair, in a spacious and elaborately furnished
hall, would gaze throughout the day on lively,
painted plans of new steamers, of clipper ships, and
of crystal palaces ; — these teachers who carefully
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 31
instruct infants i^i the chemical mysteries of acids
and alkalies, when they prefer to know less theo-
retically of sweets, — who would eagerly turn uni-
versities into schools of the profits, and snatch the
sceptres from Homer and David, to melt them into
current coin, — who think that a nation has no
more need of a literature, than, in their view, the
universe has of a God, since the only divinity for
whom they can see any use in this world or in any
other is one who can inspire men with the desire
and the way to gain the most riches in the shortest
time ; — these teachers would persuade Young
America that the architects of crystal palaces
above called forward to testify to the value of the
heart of man, now in fearful peril of forgetfulness,
were but indolent outlaws, the pests of the state,
worthy of no honor except from the bewildered vis-
ionaries who consider them as the true milestones
of a nation's progress, the sighs incarnate of the
moving ages, and who point to crumbled empires,
which have in such persons their chief titles to
remembrance ; since the great modern empire be-
lieves that it would have been better for the world
had they never been born. As easily might the
fruits of the earth be ripened under the cool benig-
32 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
nity of an iceberg as large as the sun, and in its
place, as the immortal fruits of song grow to full,
luxuriant maturity in this icy air. The earth must
feel airy heat, before it glows with beauty. The
muses never pitch their tents on frozen seas.
These instructors find something to respect
even in the Middle Ages, — the search for the
mysterious power to turn coarse materials to gold.
Recent centuries have applied the secret ; and, in
various quarters of the globe, establishments have
been provided for the transmuting process. The
men whose eyes grew dim and their heads bald,
while they searched every nook of the world of
science for the precious principle, meant less to
bend it to worldly uses than to discover a mighty
force of nature ; and they were not conscious
that the agency which they sought with weary
pain was already in their minds, and guided
their hands ; for it was not less or more than
Speculation, which, in these later ages, transferred
from ideal provinces to the field of life, is fast
subduing the solid globe to gold. Human hands,
presses, saws, hammers, wheels, steam, carbon-
ic and electric fire, gases, light, forests, rivers,
substances, and ethereal properties have been
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 33
changed by the magical fingers of this speculation
to tangible and heavy gold. Most of the cru-
cibles are coarse, but some are delicate and large
etiough to hold life's amenities, courtesies, and
loves, laws, learning, the arts, sciences, philoso-
phies, governments, social policies, the hopes of
good on earth and heavenly bliss, — and these di-
verse things, melted by the hot zeal of speculation,
come forth a translucent stream of beautiful, profit-
able gold. There is reason to think that Young
America, living where the practice of this alche-
my is most assiduous, pays no hearty allegiance
to the creed, that the only Deity is Mammon and
his only Prophet gold, and but waits, until his
heart shall beat more freely, until the eagle that
he loves to see shall lend the fire of his eye, and
until his arm shall knit its strength together, that
he may put forth his gathered force, which ten
thousand engineries shall not make to swerve, and,
shrinking St. George's conquering might to the
feeble quivering of an infant's arm, to grapple
with the Dragon-Creed ; and that, having struck
down his beastly shape, he may trample on his
sordid neck, until the howling brute shall cast up-
ward unconscious, dying eyes, while shall ^g;a§JL . ^
34 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
forth his nauseous blood, and the earth shall drink
in, with mingled grief and joy, the loved libation
which she first infused with life into the monster's
Young America is also taught to deride, as
proofs of a vain and dark superstition, those move-
ments in the Holy Land, the chief glory of the
Middle Ages, which have not been shaded, since,
in import or in magnanimity, however greatly in
final success, by any conflicts whatsoever, and
which, by nerving the spirit of resistance which
turns defeats to victories, may have ultimately
spared, not only Europe, but even this broad con-
tinent, from the conquering march of the Arabian
Imposture. Columbus might have been born a
The conflicts in the Holy Land,
To rescue from the usurper's hand
The sacred Sepulchre, may then
More justly valued be by men.
When shall an aim sublimer break,
Like dawn, and Christendom awake,
AVhence Tiber, doubly classic, flows.
To where o'er northern Isis glows
THE BECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 35
The Cross, and e'en to Russia's snows, —
When these, with learned Germany,
And Santiago's earnest cry,
Greece, with ecclesiastic fame,
Decking the lustre of her name,
The brawny North, chivalric France,
The youthful Western Eagle's glance.
Each Power in either hemisphere
That holds the Christian title dear.
As guardians shall the Faith defend,
And wisely zeal and purpose blend,
And then for ever shall expel
The Crescent of the Infidel,
The usurping symbol which bestows
Its insult where blest Siloah flows.
And shall to Christian rule restore
The land, where poured the Cross before
Abroad its sacred streams of light,
To guide the nations through the night.
May brave demands of Christian men.
Not flashing arms, be potent then,
And victory bless a still Crusade
Of Christian Truth and Christian Aid.
When shall be gained the priceless boon, —
May Heavenly Goodness haste it soon ! —
36 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
The too long sundered East and West,
No more by variance hard oppressed.
Saint Peter's majesty transformed
By hoUer patterns, nobly warmed
With better zeal, and thus aUied
With Saint Sophia's purified,
If not by fervent scourge of cords,
By resolute, unyielding words.
Saint Paul's, the northern star and tower.
Granting due measure of her power.
The great divisions, Wesleyan,
Genevan, with the Lutheran,
All Christendom, renouncing wrong
And errors which to schism belong.
Shall to the blessed Triune Name
Mingle in joy a full acclaim.
Then in no cities secular.
Not in the halls of Constantino,
Not in the city of the Czar,
Not Caesar's lordly Rome within.
Not in the isle of Saxon light.
Not in the land of Saxon might.
But in Jerusalem alone.
Shall they the Holy Faith enthrone.
That from Mount Zion's height may shine
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 87
Radiance benignant, full, divine.
While shall all tongues and realms obey
The sceptre of the Church, whose sway
The central sun of grace shall be,
Till Time becomes Eternity,
Till trembling Nature's strength shall fail,
And suns and stars grow faint and pale,
Dying to gain celestial birth
And usher in New Heavens and Earth.
More recent Crusades have taken place, of
which the New World has been the stage, to pro-
cure from the rocky sepulchres of the earth the
chief foe of salvation, a mineral more precious
than the '' price of blood " which occasioned the
armed pilgrimages to Palestine. In these later
movements the sons of Spain have been pioneers,
and have borne the chief part. The prizes of
their adventurous valor were vast regions, rich in
gold and silver, in tropical fruits, in the splendors
of perennial Spring, in atmospheres of luxurious
mildness, in serenest valleys and in highest moun-
tains, in islands as fair as the fairest visions of the
fancy, in fertile plains, higher than many lofty
peaks across the sea, beneath skies as blue as the
88 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
ocean, in bounteous streams, in new varieties of
grain, in forests of interwoven growth untouched
bj the hand of man since the first green blade
sprang up at the inspiring breath of Heaven, in
pastures where flocks need no shelter, but can
graze quietly through the burning hours of the sun
and beneath the soft effusion of the stars, in birds
of so various and brilliant plumage, that one might
imagine the very bow of promise that spans the
earth, to prove the blessedness of showers, since
their fatal day, to have become instinct with vocal
life, and to send up, with fluttering ecstasy of
hues and motions, a congregation of winged har-
monies, to mingle with the singing orbs above, in
the resounding chorus of creation. These estates
of beauty and of profit, the discovery and improve-
ment of which were the glory of Spain, and the
chief wonder of the time, have since passed from
the hands of their first conquerors into the hands of
victorious revolters, except one, the last insulated
witness, testifying that consuming draughts of ava-
rice, sweet to the taste, but bitter to the heart, are
the surest mode of suicide for nations. Portions
of the affluent paradise thus eagerly won and long
retained, have come, through independence and
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 39
defeat in a war of neighbors, into the power of a
race of men, who seem bent to fulfil what their
emigrating ancestors lacked of the lust of conquest,
even at the risk of being impelled by motives to
which their fathers would have applied the old le-
gal phrase, the instigation of the Devil.
If eloquence is rightly to be judged by its ef-
fect, it is worth an inquiry, whether in the records
of human speech can be found an instance of ora-
tory more effective than the simple announcement
of the wealth of California made by the enthusias-
tic Peter the Hermit, who inspired the last Cru-
sade to the paradise of gold, which, alluring Span-
ish adventure across oceans, mountains, the rapids
of rivers, and burning plains, through thick, dark
forests, receded, after brief glimpses, from eye and
hand, until, like a coquette, wearied with ever en-
couraging, ever denying eager suitors, and fear-
ful, as they grew less, of final neglect, yielded at
last to be won incidentally in no direct search of
the prize. That personage exemplified Demosthe-
nic action, for while his lips proclaimed abroad the
blessing to the world, his busy hands showed em-
phatically forth his meaning, while he procured for
himself a due share of the sacred deposit. With
40 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
these lively, significant movements, the brains,
hands, and feet of the community felt a vehement
sympathy. As the highest sign of eloquence is,
that men think and talk earnestly of the ideas
which they have heard, more than of their rhe-
torical attire, this herald bore a wonderful likeness
to the great Athenian, the noblest comment on
whose skill was the determination to march against
Philip. This crowded steamer, and others larger,
prove how efficient was that cry of joy, when vast
numbers of listening Americans looked into each
others' faces, and shouted, " Let us go for the
gold ! " Thus began the Crusade, in which Dem-
ocratic Sovereignties alone partake, and of which
the secondary results will very greatly outweigh
the best special success.
This migratory current is shown to be not whol-
ly mercenary by the large number of young men
whom it conveys from shore to shore. Others, in-
deed, no longer young, may have submitted to
the tide from motives the most upright and hon-
orable ; the experiences of life may soften as w^ell
as harden the heart, and the selfish coldness seen
in a score of years may melt into genial kindness
when three times that period have fled. Never-
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 41
theless, in the code of poetical justice the miserly
blight is ever imputed rather to the yellow than to
the ripening grain. Any social or political move-
ment which eminently attracts the presence of
youth, must have some characteristic really noble,
or Avhich skilfully counterfeits nobleness. Usually,
it is not until gray lines begin to appear upon the
head, that people join that congregation of ardent
worshippers, who pray inwardly, if not with their
lips, for the coming of the blessed millennium,
when sentiment and magnanimity shall be discard-
ed as outlaws from human affairs, and when the
world shall be given over to the tender mercies of
Political Economy, that demon from the pit, that
would gladly tear up, as pernicious weeds, every
fragrant charity that blooms in the garden of life.
Youth has many qualities of note. For instance,
Known is it well, that castles in the air
Chiefly are built by youth, and are a kind
Of architecture much decried as vain
By blatant dulness, and as of no order.
Except it be disorder ; — for all that.
Castles in the air may often rightly claim
Abundant honor, when the hearty will
42 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
Strives earnestly to make the cloudy forms
Substantial ones on earth : for who can point
To any firm, enduring monument
Of Art, of Power, of Good, that was not first
Simply a tottering castle in the air ?
The theory of the renowned La Place,
Whether it answer the true mode or not
Of starry mechanism, figures at least
How airy atoms of Invention grow
To solid spheres of Facts, which, set on high.
Like suns beneficent, illume and guide
The circling ages. On full many a spirit
Have rested, like vows registered in heaven,
The duty and the purpose to achieve
Some manly thing before its latest breath.
Observant of this brave, mastering intent,
In still abstracting hours, specks of design
May have been sown in fields of air ;
It could not be foreseen at first what shapes,
In time's advance, the nebulous germs would
Labor and thought, those faithful artisans.
Standing in stead for every plan of men.
May have concentrated and moulded them
To revelations of new continents,
THE DECK OE THE CRESCENT CITY. 43
Or of organic, primal laws, deduced
From chaos of the vast unknown
By the resolving chaos of the mind,
Findino; at leno!;th consummate order most.
In its constructive self and worlds without.
Where roughest, dark confusion seemed to dwell,
Or to decisive victories of Truth
O'er Error's legions, or of Liberty
O'er hosts of tyrant's hirelings, — to Statues,
Paintings magnificent, Temples sublime
Outliving races of meek worshippers, —
Or to Imperial diadems of gold.
Or to Pontifical tiaras, or
Dramatic constellations. Epic suns.
How drearily the world would on have rolled.
Making its annual journey, and how like
A penance would the life of man have been.
Had God no other charioteers e'er given
Than imitative men. Visions of youth.
Although greatly disdained and set at naught,
Have oft exactly been fulfilled ; and then
The merry scorners looked more grave, and sued
Humbly for peace, and through their lives thence-
Obeyed the bidding of the theorists.
44 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
More beneficial to their day and race
Have the derided visionaries been,
Than all the vapid satirists of time,
Who laugh at building castles in the air,
Which, being the calhng on which others turn.
The spring of action and the guide of toil.
Justly may busy those who cannot live
To serve their private benefit alone.
To shaping airy forms of future plans
The hours of youth are not confined. The gift
On youth may be conferred, no quality
Stolen from heaven, the true Promethean fire,
Determined toil, which, to the hardest flints
Turning the clods of earth, can strike from them
And the hard iron of the strenuous will
Undying sparks, like brothers of the stars,
Those sparks of gorgeous fire, struck by the hand
Of God from chaos, to give light to men.
And show the true divinity of toil.
Toil gives to rude machines both eyes and hands,
To see and do its will, ploughs fields of space
And the swift ways of time Avith elements
Obedient to the yoke ; toil interweaves
Smooth words and rough in golden cloth of song,
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 45
And marshals bricks In Pyramids that keep
Boldly their ground, on the chessboard
Of war gains earnest victories, gently
From the earth draws harvests up, from hands of
With might unanimous Great Charters wrings,
Turns stony quarries into gossamer.
That, lifted high, looks e'en too frail to hold
A weary bird, yet not by blasts of ages
Blown away. Toil freedom wins in conflicts hard.
Then on the freed soil builds up Commonwealths,
The walls of Error batters with Truth's wand.
And Christian temples rears in Pagan lands.
The rod of labor from the solid rock
Can call refreshing deeds to strengthen men.
Such is the miracle, and varied more.
Vouchsafed to toil, man's guardian and his guide.
Youth is life's Eden, where young, hovering joys
Flutter with golden wings, where warbling hopes
Attune the spicy air, where showered dews
Of myriad fancies pearly splendors cast
O'er flowery paths, Avhere lucid founts of thought
Pour glancing rills abroad, where arbors throw
A frequent, pleasing shade, where sunny vales
46 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
With harvests glow of present sweet delights.
While o'er each hill the entrancing future dawns.
Oft sudden mists arise and veil the sun.
And tears attest man's heritage begun.
Amidst the abounding beauty lurks the foe.
Who can soft names and airs serene assume.
Oft is some Eve the root of evil, or
As oft the fairest, choicest good that breathes.
The dwellers here long for the hastening hour,
When they shall leave this transient Paradise ;
And, when it comes, with joyous steps and free
They run to reach the moving crowd before.
Which having o'ertaken, and the newness gone,
Panting and sad they strive again to taste
The treasure left behind unprized, — in vain.
Unless the hope of an immortal youth
The heart shall lift above its sea of care,
And gardens of unfading love and bliss
Alluring fragrance breathe throughout the air.
In early years quick, startled thoughts arise
At every rustling noise which Nature makes,
As on her sleepless guard she walks her rounds.
The sun, in triumph journeying from the east,
The captive Queen of Night, secured by chains.
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 47
Downcast and pacing with slow feet afar
Behind his flaming chariot, the band
Of subject warriors following her sad steps,
Attired in twinkling robes, hold fast the sight
Of childhood, wondering whence the bright ones
The changing vesture of the advancing hours.
From the soft, rosy richness of the morn.
To the proud, jewelled splendor of the noon.
Then to the gold brocade of sunset time.
To twihght's robes of matron comeliness.
To night's dark velvet, with its glistening pearls.
The briUiant singing-birds, perfumes of flowers.
The flying insects, the white, falling snow.
The bubbhng drops of rain, the jagged lines
Of lightning, the besieging thunder's crash
Against the sky's dark fortresses, excite
Mysterious questions which the child solves not.
The shade of grief, a bitter glance or frown.
An infant's face, answering each loving smile,
Tears, voices, looks, the name of Deity,
The wayside incidents of life, awake
Early reflection, but the after strife
Stifles the powers reflective in the most,
Until the inexorable usher comes.
48 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
And, calling out each name in turn, opens
The sombre portals of the boundless halls,
Where souls must enter in with bending awe,
And think for ever.
Youth may be borne o'er seas
Where harpies of the mad, vindictive winds
Excite the waves to foaming rage,
To lands where trampling crowds toil and make
O'er graves of Empires. Beneath arches high
Of the great edifice which Time has built
To keep his treasures from oblivion's air
A little while, youth to the tones
Which that swift architect, touching the keys
Of History's organ with his fingers cold,
Brings to the ears of men, listens attent.
Ever and variously those notes resound.
Now are they chants of worship, wailings now
O'er ravages of famine, plague, or war.
And now^ the clangor loud, that calls pale cheeks
To battle, to be flushed with angry zeal
In the thick fight, exultant strains of peace,
The song of triumph o'er defeated foes.
Sweet pastoral melodies on mountain-sides,
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 49
The sighs of trampled men beneath the strides
Of hard Ambition's unrelenting march ;
The martyr's faithful and triumphant song
In flames that kiss, like Judas, to destroy ;
Voices of men turned frantic fiends to hurl
The globe's best works to ruin ; laughing scorn
At a" weak nation's lowly plea for right ;
Outrage of subjects 'gainst a tyrant's crime ;
A people's thanks to a deliverer given ;
Freedom's glad symphonies, that softly breathe
Contentment, peace, allegiance to good laws,
Valor in causes just, and hope in God.
O'er ridges of the past, youth looks on ranks
Of shadowy kings, on gorgeous capitals
Forsaken, upon realms once full of men,
Where beasts now stalk o'er broken palaces ;
On armies great to battle's clarion deaf.
To start from their still camps alone when called
To gather on a field where more than crowns
And kingdoms are at stake, — their once bright
Now black with rust, and engineries decayed,
And the arms that wielded them retreated now
Into strongholds of frail and feeble dust ;
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
On towers that challenged thne's assault, and fell.
Unequal to the persevering fight ;
On shrines to idols, built by people false
To truth and law, and holy temples too.
Whose roofs of gold dazzled the sun, prostrate
By power retributive for daily guilt ;
On sages who w^ould solve life's mysteries.
Gone, with their systems, to solve death itself;
On mounts, where the ancient deities no more
In council meet ; on sciences displaced
By waves of further knowledge ; upon robes
Of fashion, with their wearers, laid aside ;
On hopes fulfilled, and, with their fruitage,
And ghosts of fears, that worked their ill and
On states crumbled by busy minutes, ants
That help and break man's firmest structures
And now a sun uprising showers such beams,
That startled youth looks up and sees the heights
Of future time crowned w4th the radiance new ;
Past ills to glorious blessings there give way,
To be, perchance, such curses, in their turn,
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 51
As liave distracted men ; the paths of life,
O'er emerald slopes, like threads of silver, wind,
With a rich garniture of roses lined, —
The blended hues seem conscious of delight, —
Yet may the paths be found, on trial, rough,
The colored rays but painted on the air ;
Each cliff is burnished with a golden light ;
Peace, plenty, brotherhood, life's graces, there
Live blest and blessing ; there no despots rule ;
Nations sustain each other in the right ;
No reigns of Terror charity affright.
No reigns of Indolence have ushered them,
For royal sluggishness a crime may be,
So expiated that e'en Time severe
Might stay his flight to drop a pitying tear ; —
No armies of their captains emperors make,
Good-will to men is owned the rule supreme.
Youth counts on living such good days to see.
Which, when they seem in beauty to have
Sadden the heart, so soon upon the sight
Delusion spreads the shadows of her night ;
The golden light is seen but shining mist ;
Foul wrong is robed in liberty's attire ;
52 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
And kings rule roughly, though without the name ;
Brothers, in sport, are equal brothers called ;
ISTations aid nations, mainly to secure
The largest portion of the common gain ;
While policies, not principles, prevail.
And right and duty have no friends at court ;
The progress hoped and toiled for is not made,
A few short steps, but not the journey sought ; —
Actions defeated by reactions, till
From agonies and struggles hard result
A few small scales of gold from heaps of ore,
A few small pearls by myriad divers won,
A few small spots of green in deserts great,
A cup of water after seas of blood.
But inch by inch, most wearily, toils on
Humanity to reach her final crown.
In mounts, the veterans of the tempests' wars,
Youth sees earth's noblest majesty portrayed,
And in the voices of the cataract.
And of the white, ungovernable sea.
Hears nature's deepest music, while is felt
The breathing of strange presences in groves.
Thus musing on the verge that nature keeps
Of high, unknown infinity, youth walks,
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 53
As with the attendance of a guardian spirit,
Among the monuments of human power,
Deriving deeper wisdom from the search
Of works of man by light from works of God,
And deeper wisdom still from lamps divine
At holy altars lit.
Youth ponders on the famed historic plains.
Where dynasties played their last stakes for life,
And bold Ambition for one victory more.
But lost the sceptre which it owned before.
In stars for ever beautiful and young
Youth sees its perpetuity set forth ;
Youth fears instinctively the lonely dark, —
Not what it knows of causes makes it bold.
Youth notes the kinds and qualities of men
In tones, in looks, in acts, in choice of words ;
From fields of nature and of life youth reaps
Full sheaves of observation, to supply
The granaries of age with memory's food ;
The hare youth captures for the feast of age.
Imaginations, loves, sorrows, delights,
Aims, eiforts, blessings, music, laughs with
Precious, inspiring words from lips revered,
54 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
The hopes of Avorlds where snows ne'er chill the
Youth keeps these all to exalt the heart, when
No more the dew of fresh and early joy.
The liveliness of youth by chance infused
Into old messes of conservatism,
Seething o'er furnaces made fiery hot
By the fierce breath of men, is quick to make
Its presence felt. Sometimes youth, restive
Tears up old governments, old boots in which
Nations have walked until their feet are sore,
Old documents, full of dead letters, or
Of what should be, and leaves the broken pieces
For careful age to make up o'er again,
If so it can, or if it fail, then youth
Supplies materials good for structures new ;
Or youth may put its vigor forth to hold
The trembling columns of the state upright.
Which else might fall disastrously, and be
In ruins anarchy or tyranny.
The young men on deck, though ready to de-
fend their country, or to fulfil her aggressive des-
THE DECK OF THE CKESCENT CITY. 55
tiny on the fields, forts, or wooden walls of war,
have now less directly in view to overturn or
to strengthen commonwealths, than to advance
each his individual good. Since benefits un-
consciously conferred are often the greatest, pri-
vate success may aid the State as much as
the most intentional patriotism. The wish to
die for one's country, boldly expressed before
the trumpet sounds for battle, may be less effi-
cient than a quiet patriotism that thinks it possi-
ble to love one's country, without making a spas-
modic fuss about it at all times ; and, since the
action of the government cannot always excuse a
want of personal thrift and attention, if the chim-
ney of the kitchen takes fire, an unrepaired de-
fect in that vehicle of smoke and supererogatory
flame may be as likely to be the cause of the
trouble as an Act of Congress.
Hard as it would be to define the diversity of
motives contained in the general design to advance
personal fortune, it is true that some of those on
deck have been allured, by the fascination of Cali-
fornian wealth, from places which, tried by the new,
golden standard of prosperity, appeared to be of
slow and meagre profit, in the hope to occupy their
56 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
energy in wider fields and those more quicklj and
plentifully fertile, to be found either in the min-
eral districts or in the commercial wants of the
new population ; while others, having striven in
vain, though long and earnestly, for posts of duty
answering to their eagerness and strength, and
wearied by the fretting chains of vigor impatient for
due and appropriate exertion, resolve to enter the
lists of competing toil in the new settlement, which,
like the new election of a President, is regarded
with prophetic joy, as affording lucrative niches
for the winning side. In the history of others,
reasonable hopes have been darkened and chilled
by frequent and full eclipses ; and in the chalice
of disappointment, ever pressing upon the lips,
were mingled the bitterness of the past, the cold-
ness of the present, and the blackness of the future ;
but at length, even in their disconsolate ears, the
enlivening angel of resolution whispered the mak-
ing of one trial more to launch their hitherto dis-
heartened labors on a brighter sea. Some, for
the strangeness and excitement mainly, have re-
nounced for a while the ceremonial law of fashion,
and the inane or even the real urbanities of the
drawing-room, or the splendid or ludicrous attire of
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 57
the masquerade, for the less dainty and more home-
ly manners of the mines. Thus, even delegates
from the upper ten thousand (for the lucky phrase
has become a part of the people's English) of the
metropolis are ready to doff their white kids, and
to press on with the crowding million in the race
for gold. Others, who have never disguised their
humanity in fantastic robes, ransacking the past
for the strangest dresses, who have led gay feet
around in the merry movements only of the ru-
ral dance, may have come hither with as warm
and genial hearts as any that have beaten proud-
ly beneath the feigned vesture of real purple and
gold. In the case of others, the tendrils of exer-
tion may have begun to fade and droop in the
shade of uncongenial labor, and to give them sun-
shine and a freer air, that they may grow to lib-
eral strength and graceful manliness, may have
inspired departure. Sentiment, also, roughly
cased it may be, but beautiful as the soft and
winning decoration of Spring, may have imbathed
the soul with its fragrance, until from the warm
suffusion may have grown the aspiration soon to
fulfil hopes of tender joy, that the days, crowned
with garlands of united love and duty, may pass
58 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
hand in hand along the great highway, where
every step advances, or that aged feet may have
a stronger staff, and the hoary head a richer bless-
ing. Others, having aims held in little honor in
their native land, but of highest praise in older
nations, who have found the avenues to the light
which they desire barred against them by sight-
less ignorance or by sharp-eyed enmity, hardly
conscious, with every effort, of making other prog-
ress than that towards the grave, which needs no
special pains, and, perhaps, having passed the age
when men before have gained concession of their
right, consuming their hearts in hours of reflec-
tive agony, care not to what part of their vast
house of bondage they may go, whether to the
frozen poles or to the flowery tropics, since even
little Denmark, narrow and dark a prison as it
may have seemed, looks to their view like the
broad, free palace of inspiring day, compared to
the sullen dungeon which for them lengthens in
solid gloom between the ridges of eternal, azure
ice, that glare and crash in the stifi" solitudes of
Some of the passengers, older as well as young-
er, have counted the cost of the undertaking, as
THE DECK OF THE CRESCEXT CITY. 59
well as common report and the experiences of
others have enabled them to do ; and, havmg
■weighed the exposures of health and life, the chan-
ces and results of failure, with the comforts and
conveniences of success, they show by their pres-
ence here the turning of the scales. Others,
overwhelmed by disaster in affairs, are eager
to make amends with fortune, where the dis-
piriting pressure of the past shall not smother
each timid purpose and reviving struggle. The
downcast eye looks up, and sees better visions ;
the heart beats more freely and lightly ; the foot is
more conscious of its right to press manfully the
earth ; the breast forbears the weary sighs of re-
pining, and heaves with renovating and expanding
As, often, the spring of bravery, long and far
renowned, is manly sorrow, mourning over thwart-
ed hopes and fleeing from the foe that mines busily
at the heart, to stand unterrified before the open
storm of war, — some may also press to a land of
nearly insane activity, that not instill, cold waters,
but rather in the fiery ardor, of oblivion, may be
lost the unspoken woe, which arms the memory
with swords, and makes reflection madness.
60 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
Others have not been allured by vivid fancies
of easy and sudden gains, but, daily tortured by
the craving instances of those who vowed to be
theirs '' for richer, for poorer," they have forsak-
en homes which affliction, instead of wealth, may
visit, while sordid wishes may yield too late to
unavailing grief. Others, on the other hand, have
set at naught dissuasive tears, tender remonstran-
ces, the sunshine of true hearts, the dew of vows
sincerely spoken and believed, present happiness,
and worthy hopes, being resolved, against entrea-
ties or distresses of others, or their own, to search
the rocks and sands, not fertile in affection, how
rich soever in gold. Others, moved by the thor-
ough presence of love, obeying what sounds to
them as the peremptory voice of duty, forsake the
kind contentments of good and happy, though
narrowly provided homes, with the firm intent to
act, in every place, incident, and hour, with that
most blessed combination, defiant energy informed
by sacred tenderness.
There is one, whose waning years are marked
by his gray head, dim, ghostly eyes, and nervous
tremor. Not arrayed in heavy armor, and with
glittering lance, to meet his adversary at the tour-
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 61
nament, or his stern foe in battle, he is still a
knight, but of Mammon's Court, worn in long,
hard wars for pelf, and now going forth to put his
sordid chivalry to proof in contending with the
dust of earth for its small, shining particles. The
alchemy of avarice has changed each motion of
his soul into a thirst for gain ; and his perceptions,
thus transformed, have made the very elements of
nature to express his longing. Fire, the nurse of
harvests in the dark chambers of their silent
growth, but signifies the life and power of his vul-
gar ardor ; Earth, as radiant with celestial beauty
as the stars, to him who sees it with illumined
eyes, betokens his unspiritual aim ; Water, which
makes the pastures green, and fields of tillage fer-
tile, — that hangs brooks, shining like silver chains,
upon the brows of mountains, and encircles the
world with oceans and with arches of every hue, —
is to him naught but the swift conveyer of deeply-
laden ships ; the wide, translucent Air, that images
Supernal Providence, beneficently present every-
where, denotes alone his craving spirit, that would
tightly grasp and sternly hold the globe. No
tender thoughts, hopes, aims, experiences, impara-
dise his heart. His leaden soul never ascends on
62 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
the wings of thankful song, or on the ladder of de-
votion, to the Holy Throne. No subtile or expan-
sive science brings to him sublime delight, save
that he deigns to think it crowns the inventive
wit of man to have tamed the fiery lightning to
convey, with his swift, glancing traces, the rise
and fall of prices. With fearful meaning. Nature
is to him " a universal blank."
Not only rests a nightly shade on noblest hopes,
which should be his, but the unholy spell upon his
spirit is retrospective, and takes away from lovely
memories their native beauty. The sportive
shout, that made the very air playful with waving
music, sounds in his recollecting ear like a shrill
cry for gold ! gold ! The generous run, that sent
the merry, winged blood flying through every vein,
is changed into a scramble for unworthy pelf.
Letters in the books of knowledge, losing their
fair meaning, spell and decipher money. Early
affections are enshrouded and invisible. The mem-
ory of youth, the sanctuary of the heart's amenL
ties, whither, weary and worn in the dusty, besieg-
ing world, they repair awhile for a refreshing ref-
uge, has yielded to the assault of the ruling passion
of his after years, which, pressing rudely in, makes
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 63
the altar a sacrilegious throne ; and the soul
thence gains no serenity for her upward flight,
but a new incitement only to a low, ignoble
His thoughts, occupied so long upon the mean-
est purposes of life, should -be briefly spent, at
least, upon the possibility of holy dying ; but, in-
stead, they are sent, convoyed by troops of fancies,
to the far, crowded mines, and their united speed
no figure can depict. He is jeafous of those
who have preceded him in the way, lest their
gains should be his losses ; and he regards every
face with rigor, as that of a designing rival. Be-
guiling phantoms haunt the hours of this bright
day, and Avhisper, glare, and glide about him, hold-
ing his senses dizzied by their flashing, mazy, chat-
tering spells ; and then they fly, leaving him imbe-
cile and weak, as he who survives the convulsive
touch of the lightning may awake and start up
a vacant idiot. But this effect is transient, for
again he sees outlines impalpable of golden w^edg-
es, bars, and dust, thronging the dazzled air, and
now his hungry hands move every way to seize
them ; but they, elusive, change to milhons of an-
gry eyes, bent full on him ; his hands shrink back
64 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
appalled, and he leans upon the side of the ship,
faint with his sudden and exhausting dream in
Some, whose days of misfortune have been
embittered by reproaches, instead of being soothed
by the allowances o£ tenderness, humbly submis-
sive to the will of God, yet manly rebels against
the scornful, crushing will of man, resolve to ex-
haust their energies in unfamiliar places, and to
escape in busy, unobserving crowds the weight of
bitter glances and upbraiding words.
There is the gamester, who flies, like the hawk,
from land to land, from river to river, from ocean
to ocean, whithersoever he perceives his prey to
go. Standing slyly apart, he casts his sneering,
icy eye about, as if selecting those from whom,
in hours of their reckless risk, he may gain by
infernal artifice the fruits of long and arduous toil.
The chords of his heart, which may once have
quivered with natural kindness, have become one
congelation of apathy ; for, as it has been recalled
to the w^orld's mind, what is very apt to be for-
gotten, that the criminal convict in his cell, whom
society abhors, was, years before, a smiling, prat-
tling infant, so the professional gambler, the Ish-
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 65
maelite of civilization, whose hand is against that
of every man who will engage with him, may, in
rosy boyhood, have trundled his hoop, read Robin-
son Crusoe, and said his prayers, like good children
The fair name of enterprise cannot sanctify the
mere lust of gold, yet, beside the field of usual
avocations opened in every newly planted state,
the direct search for the precious metals may be
made as honorable as any form of mediate negotia-
tion between the mine and the coffer. Whether
or not any way of wealth be manly or miserly, de-
pends less upon the way than upon the man who
has chosen and pursues it. A justly meaning
man is chiefly requisite to make any calling just.
Men grown opulent from plethoric usury may
shake their heads, and talk like philosophers about
the regular paths of industry, when their poorer
neighbors, whose competence may have gone to fill
their chests, talk of visiting the mines ; but posi-
tive laws, in some of the States, declare, with the
heavy emphasis of pains and penalties, the way of
wealth pursued by such advisers to be of a very
irregular kind. When, also, divines, in churches
of hewn stone made gossamer, and full of the col-
66 THE DECK OF THE CKESCEXT CITY.
ored splendor of the light, denounce to their rose-
ate audiences the Californian rage, the question
might sometimes be pertinently put to the rever-
end oracles, cro^vned with prismatic diadems,
■whether rich fortunes matrimonial are among the
graceful means of wealth, which justifv a haughty
severity of censure on God's hosts of striving
poor, outside high Gothic walls. Much of the
dissuasion may be most proper and timely, but it
should not be spoken by such ones with arrogance
Some daintily refined people regard a poor man
as having the same relation to humanity which a
poor picture has to a gallery of the Fine Arts. Of
the tortures, agonies, and temptations belonging to
the want of riches, they have little thought, and
they look upon poverty, not as being distressing
and disheartening, but simply as being ungracefiU
and inelegant. They wonder how any man or
woman can show such a want of good taste as to
be poor. In respect of the knowledge of life,
they are of like mind with the royal lady of
France, who advised giving the cake to the French
people, when they were famishing and crying for
bread. If the ills and needs of life be spoken of
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 67
in their hearing, they will allow them to be very
sad, though thinking hardly of the thoughtless per-
sons who have no more manners than to annoy
their nerves with such things. Still, they have
the languid charity to think that every person in
misfortune has surely a reserved aid somew^here,
in the cake-box or in the bank ; for they cannot
imagine any person to be so completely broken on
the wheel of fortune as not to have a small annui-
ty left. At the mention of the Californian emi-
gration, such people, of course, sneer audibly, but
not so heartily as to disarrange the precision of
their facial lines ; and thenceforth they discard the
subject as being quite too low and democratic to
divide their serious thoughts with the last import-
ed mode of social manners or wath the next new
Happily for the exemplification of these royal
ideas, there w^as detected, not long ago, in a dark,
dusty corner of the great Western closet of the
world, a gigantic box of cake, which had been
locked up there for many ages. As soon as the
discovery was made and known, multitudes of peo-
ple, desiring a change of diet, without consulting
monarchs, presidents, or lovers of the beautiful,
68 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
obeyed at once their sovereign impulses, and
crowded away in immense steamers like this, in
ships of all sizes, and almost in little boats with
shingles for rudders and handkerchiefs for sails, to
reach the prize and help themselves to slices, be-
having in that action as moderately as their eager-
ness and the variety of their dispositions allowed,
though rather angry, once or twice, with some
covetous foreigners, who, not content with waiting
for a cake-box of their own, dipped their greedy
fingers into their mess.
There are no relics in California of the Old
Painters or of the Old Saints, perhaps not many
new representatives of either class. CaUfornia
has no Rhines, Arnos, Tibers, so needful for gen-
tlemen of taste, no Alhambras, Vaticans, or Pyra-
mids. The Coliseum, with an awning spread over
the top of its encircling w^all, would make a spa-
cious inn, and a lucrative one, were its host to be
some renowned projector of wonders in the realms
of Art and Nature ; but that is not there, and
nothing looks like it there ; and no Archimedes
can be found, to devise the conveyance of the
structure over two oceans and a sea, and around
Cape Horn, where such a Leviathan of sinking sub-
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 69
stance might easily founder in a storm ; nor Avould
the famous Mr Paxton undertake to transport the
bulk which, had it been made of glass, would have
been shivered by the arrows of the Vandals, even
though the state, grateful for the increase of its
lodging resources, should confer upon him, beside a
solid reward, the rights and honors of the Ameri-
can order of the flashing spread eagle of sunset ;
a token of approval more strange, if less to be
prized, than the surname of knighthood, destined
to be his, and which would be Avorthily bestowed,
but more gracefully, if, at the same time, another
Englishman should receive such appreciation, — a
man to whom England and the world are more in-
debted than they could be for a hundred Crystal
Palaces, whether, like this one, of glass that breaks,
or, like the Russian one of which Cowper sings, of
ice that melts, — a man as beneficial certainly as
a minister of the crown, and whose writings are a
Crystal Palace, where the sunlight of manly senti-
ment and of playful fancy gleams through periods
more clear and beautiful than plates of glass, and
brightened by the moisture of pathetic dew. Com-
mendable and great as is the skill shown in contriv-
ing so vast and light an edifice, to be so various-
70 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
Ij filled, yet, when this New Curiosity Shop shall
nearly have faded from the memory of men, eager
eyes will continue to throng the Old Curiosity Shop,
to pay their glistening tributes at the saintly shrine
of early sorrow in its early grave. This, however,
is an Age of Light, when great toyshops are built,
intended to be taken down after six months of
show ; not one of the miserable Dark Ages, when
cathedrals were erected, to be taken down only
after leases of thousands of years, or, if suddenly,
by convulsions alone, that shake terribly the earth.
The dignity of toil is not the new creation which
it claims to be ; it was known of old, and its sub-
limest exhibitions have ever been founded upon
the rock. Long may Sir Joseph Paxton enjoy his
laurels, fairly won, and long may exemplar Majes-
ty outshine the jewelled crown ; but may it every-
where be heeded well, that, while plates of glass,
not being conductors of the electrical principle,
may negatively aid the commonwealth, those men
are positive pillars of the state whose spell can
charm the lightning of the soul into brotherly
kindness, and the bolts of anger into loyal chari-
But, as it was about to be said, in California
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 71
tbere are no "Westminster Abbeys, or likenesses
of them, except in so far as the courtesies of life,
which should be like open doors, demand a fee.
Elegant aflSnities cannot be attracted towards a
heathenish region, that has no catacombs, where
the feet can wander through halls after halls whose
sides are lined with ghastly, embalmed human
shapes, a standing army of silent, spectral death,
enrobed in dusky brown, like friars, as many of them
were in life ; no grinning, Gothic faces, or heads
of turbaned Saracens, carved in stone, which, if
suddenly appearing to people unused to the daily
sight, would send them hurrying, pale and trem-
bling, to the shrine of the nearest patron-saint of
any body for help ; no curious mosaics, express-
ing sacred symbols or historic faces, less reverent-
ly than the inner thought conceives ; no deceased
dialects, with inexplicable inscriptions on their
tombstones ; no desecrated paintings of holy per-
sons, with miraculously moving eyes, or statues
bleeding for the faithful at set times ; no red con-
gelations, in mysterious vials, liquefying once a
year ; no cenotaphs, of rosy spotted porphyry, of
kings ; no ancient castles, with stains of the blood
of slain favorites or ministers of state, yet opening
T2 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
red, revealing lips on stony floors. The presence
of some despairing men, grieved at home, and with
hopes of better fortune broken and wilted there,
and dangling about their souls like faded garlands
on the brow of a maniac, may help, indeed, to
give that air of misery w^hich makes a country at-
tractive and classical.
Thoughts, w^hich, if set in the golden casket of
expression, would shine as brightly as any rays from
the mental stars that soften and illume the calm
night of meditation, may visit many unknown and
humble men, in hours of patient service ; for, in
truth, all who have ever won the admiration of the
world have been equalled, each in his special ca-
pacity, by thousands of whom the world has never
heard. Many such, with whom life's fortunes
have gone hardly, as well as obscurely, have looked
about them on wan cheeks and fallen eyes, and
at the sight their hearts have gone down, as if
they would not cease ; but those hearts have been
lifted from wells of grief by the news from the
Pacific shore, and the hope to see those pale, thin
cheeks full and animate again, and those eyes no
more dull and spiritless, has persuaded them to
embark for the region of promise. Religion, that
THE DECK OF THE CKESCENT CITY. 73
loves and blesses the sad, weighing the needs of
men in scales of charity, and sifting motives in
her silver sieve, will encourage this decision or not,
as she may wisely judge ; but Sanctimony, the
usurper of her Crystal Throne, should have earnest
care, lest she revile as mercenary feelings as soft-
ly, brightly pure as any thing on earth can be,
even as the tears that press upon the eyes of
childhood, as they turn their last look upon the
bending face of a mother, and then close, to open
not again in time. Art and Learning, in broad
halls, tapestried with books, or in gorgeous prisons
of the willing senses, should not frown upon these
men for desiring to change the living portraitures
of sorrow into those of gladness, and sad moans or
sadder silence into songs of ringing joy ; for to take
off the weight from heavy hearts is as worthy and re-
fining, as to wander admiringly through Tusculan
villas, to trace, with Iliad in hand, the sites of Ho-
mer's cities, or to listen Avith the cultured ear alone
where Misereres bathe the soul in tearful ecstasies
of sound, and beat with plaintive, holy waves, until
responsive arches, altars, walls, and pillars throb
with harmony and sorrow.
But if the dispositions and motives of these men
74 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
be disdained by people who have been refined out
of sympathy with their kind, let them be construed
generously by those who know that the life of
man has not yet been made a garden where he
who wills may walk beneath embowering shades,
to the music of perpetual fountains. The peculiar
histories of every multitude of men would furnish
momentous chronicles. Every heart, that has tal-
lied its account ^of beating life from infancy to
manhood, could supply an Epic with conflicts, victo-
ries, and defeats. Magnanimity may reside beneath
the sunniest bronze and coarsest texture, while
hard cunning may prefer pleasant features and ap-
parel of the latest mode. The best sensibilities may
be seen in leaden caskets, and the harshest tempers
may be set in gold ; and, also, it is true, that the
courtesy of wealth may be a faithful sign of warmth
within, and poverty may be made trebly poor by
a suspicious envy, more arrogant than what it en-
vies, and by a misers surliness and craft, that lack
alone his means.
Here may be some hearts too dry ever to re-
ceive a blight, which cannot lose the mellowness
which they have never had ; and others, as hard
as the united hardness of all the nether and the
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 75
upper millstones which ever compressed corn so
closely, that each grain cried out with protesting
agony as it was ground to the nutritious dust.
Avarice, displayed by people rich or poor, claims,
properly, its dues ; with these let the moral ac-
count be also met by full dividends of just re-
buke and compound usury of scorn. But soft,
fair violets may grow beneath the most corrupted
tree. Upon this deck flowers may spring, as beau-
tiful and as fragrant as any that ever sent their
odors forth in greenest meadows ; here, too, may-
be gnarled oaks, which hold their faded leaves
tenaciously until the latest day of autumn, and
then yield them with fear, lest they fall astray,
and fertilize some other soil than theirs. Sub-
lime and lovely natures, above the aim of the mi-
ser, may be enshrined in wealth or in need. The
golden, perennial beauty of the soul depends not
on the outward mark.
In the spirits of many here, memory may be
a true sentinel of firm affections, of fervent joys,
of tender sorrows, which, not content with being
merely prisoners of the memory, press by the
guard, in their haste to catch the very eye of the
76 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
Now brighter than the splendor of the day.
Which through the sky, with clouds impearled,
O'er emerald banks, the waters of the bay,
The city great, the ship that longs to thread
Her glancing furrows white, abroad is shed
The brilliancy of wings by love allied
To hearts by impulses of memory led,
Towards shrines afar, where burning lamps
The guidance of whose light no seas or mounts
O'er hills, on which the sun's saluting beams,
And parting, smile and play entrancingly.
O'er the blue, silvered, winding, rippling streams,
Swiftly as eagles to their eyries fly.
These visitants are borne with fervency.
O'er forests deep, which ne'er the sunshine know.
O'er fertile plains and homes of industry.
O'er pastures with flocks sprinkled, valleys low,
O'er fields where yellow waves of ripened plenty
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 77
Rejoicingly the Earth looks up ^o see.
That man still owns a portion of the dower
Which once was his, when, with the accordancy
Of birds and brooks, within her bounteous bower
Of eastern bliss, where sprung each fragrant
And fair that opes to taste the morning dew,
She greeted him in his first, sinless hour,
And for him daily more delightful grew.
While imaged on her face shone every choicest
At homes, the chancels of earth's sacred
Where are the rites with due observance paid
Of life's adorning and attractive graces.
The farewell pilgrimage of love is stayed.
Each heart now folding memory's flying aid,
With silent steps, unseen, unheard, descends,
And, in the precincts of the cherished shade, •
With saddening fears attended, lowly bends.
While all the pleasant past with present sorrow
78 THE DECK OF THE CKESCENT CITY.
They cling so eagerly and firmly there,
That, of themselves, they cannot loose their hold,
But Hope and Purpose, now approaching, dare,
Joining their hands together, kindly bold,
To lift the prostrate ones, and, then, to infold
Their failing energies with manly force
Of fortitude, whose patient arm can mould
Faint hearts to mighty souls : by this resource.
Nerved to return, they rise upon their airy course.
Their pinions falter with the weight of tears,
Whose heavy moisture oft the soul may feel.
When eyes are dry, and show no woes or fears ;
For they, when lavishly abroad may deal
The sun his fiercest beams, may still reveal
Unshrinking vision, as they sternly gaze.
It is the heraldic crest, which marks the seal
Of true nobility, in troublous days.
To fix on Duty's eye, through rough or fiery ways.
As in the sunny flight these tears arise.
Keeping their form and beauty in the sky,
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 79
They are seen to glisten by the seraphs' eyes.
Who hold continual ward in stations high.
For to these seven sentries ceaselessly
The holy charge from Heaven is assigned
To watch for human tears with constancy,
Since gems of more imperishable kind
As signs of better life on earth they cannot find.
These merciful, good angels, in their hands,
Diffusing pearly light, these crystals seize,
And with the glad alacrity which bands
Ethereal use, fulfilling charities.
They reach the place, where quiring harmonies
Proclaim the glory of the King of Kings.
They trembling kneel ; at once the melodies
Of harp and voice are still ; alone there rings
The richly rustling sound of many joining wings.
The silent angel-guards bend down their eyes,
And bear upon a jewelled salver, wrought
With precious skill, these moist resplendencies.
Whose clear tongues plead to help man's bitter
80 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
Would that to stainless beauty might be brought
The germ divine of man, to dark descents
Though fallen, yet living, undecayed to naught.
As 'midst his errors, sins, and wrong intents
These lucid points evince, these dewy arguments.
Even if, to him who departs, a pall seems to
invest all time ; if the silent depths of his soul
are dark, and every face, to his distempered sight,
answers the gloom of his ; if the cheers of the
multitude sound like cries of agony, and the pant-
ing of the mechanism like moans of pain, — still,
far down in the gulf of the past, glimpses of
home once happy may beam like stars, that shoot
forth as stormy clouds sweep swiftly by them, to
show that the tempest is broken, and to promise
the morning on the sea, when the billows, playing
in the softened breeze and splendor, shall lift
towards the sun white crests of joy, and with
their shining hands press on the ships, as if know-
ing how much more blessed it is to help than to
If he has caused a blight to fall upon any spirit,
or has thrust away pure affections that strove to
embrace him tenderly ; if through means of his
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 81
any face has grown daily more wan, and has
finally paled wholly from the sight, that valued
not the treasure ; if any child, to whom his care,
and love should have been like dew and sunshine
to the budding flower, has fled in terror from his
glaring eye and frenzied hand ; if he has derided
or used ungratefully any good of Providence or
man, — still, now, the crisis of resolution may have
awakened his dull spirit ; he may remember en-
treaties to forgive impatience shown in bearing
woes which he is conscious of having brought him-
self, and the memory may assure him that a heart
so tender as to crave pardon from one who griev-
ously had wronged it, lacked not th^ grace to grant
the boon it sought, and although it cannot now
with living lips, yet in the full sunlight he may see
bending upon him, from the far-ofi" sky, eyes
which he once made to be dim with sorrow, or to
look sadder from efibrts to restrain their flowing
grief, but now beaming with forgiving hope,
brighter than the sun.
If his heart has been sorrowful so long that
gladness, should it come, must express itself by
sighs ; if his way has been made rough with diffi-
culties by those, who, if he has failed to conquer
82 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
them, have scoffed at his ill success, or, if he has
manfully trampled them down, have taken the
praise of bringing out his energy by opposition ;
if in his strenuous trials to gain a free scope for
himself, hands have pressed or drawn him back,
that should heartily have helped him forward ; if
voices that should have inspired his will have ma-
ligned his purposes and ways ; if far-sighted pru-
dence, denounced as obstinacy, because defying
hostile censure, and tenderly firm against friendly
but blind persuasion, has in a fatal hour yielded
to the united siege of enmity and love, and, after-
wards, spent years of brokenness of spirit in
mourning over thwarted aims, until those who ac-
cepted submission with joy have seen too late their
error, and hostile ones have treated compliance
with their counsels more haughtily and contempt-
uously than they had done resistance to them ; if
this or that procedure has been recommended for
pretended benefit, but really to cut the wings of a
design that seemed about to cross the course of
the adviser, though with no such intent ; if energy
has first learned the consciousness of itself from
seeing lips of scorn ; if in the house of friends
wounds have been given that have chilled the fer-
THE DECK OF THE CRESCEXT CITY. 83
vor of life, and still charity, knowing that there
■was no design to cut like swords, or to pierce like
heated points of steel, has not accused, lest pangs
should thrill through a heart, or tears bedew a
face beloved ; whether or not reasons like these
have cast their weight into the scale ; or, if life
has hitherto passed happily ; if good-will has
cheered the struggling path, and daily frowns
have not made the hours sad ; if friendly hands
have been prompt to promote worthy aims ; if the
heart has been more pained by over-kind regard
than by contumely or chilliness ; if sorrow has but
deepened apd brightened the soul and the sight?
made more manly the pressure of the foot, and
depressed alone a haughty bearing of the head ;
whether the mind refers to a more sunny or to
a more cloudy past, hope is yet busy with the
fibres of each heart, and teaching to some lips the
song of a lighter and fairer future, to others of
one less dark and sad.
The eye now turns again to the journal, in
which the editor shows
How like the dew of Hermon 't is to see
Both Ministers and Congressmen agree
84 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
In laboring to secure the public good
More fervently than for their daily food ;
And to their country showing all devotion,
Without a thought of personal promotion.
But a crowd of trunks make such confusion that
these paradisiacal portraitures cannot be viewed
with the serene and absorbing rapture which is
due to the few memorials on earth of the reign of
Saturn. It is natural that men should wish to
keep trunks as far out of the way of harm, and as
much under their eye, as they can ; for trunks are
useful and pleasant travelling companions, not-
withstanding inspectors of customs, who, it is
gratifying to know, sometimes cut their fingers
with glass ornaments, when searching for smug-
gled silk or contraband lace.
Ne'er is a man more at a loss to know
What with himself to do, or where to go,
Than when, amazed, his trunk he cannot find,
With best and nearest goods and chattels lined.
The most attractive objects then lose their en-
chantment. Superb editions of the old poets,
with clasps of silver guarding thoughts of gold ;
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 85
cathedrals, lighted and shaded by stained win-
dows, having carved oaken choirs, pillars of choice
marble, and floors of mosaic; illuminated man-
uscripts, thronged with figures, stiff, but very
brightly colored ; gorgeously panelled walls of
palaces, and ceilings storied in fresco ; paintings
of the old masters, or statuary of older or of
later than they, ruling the spirit with sceptres of
beauty ; matins and vespers breathing harmonies
into the ears of the devout air ; lofty cypresses,
making walls of verdure with masses of interlacing
foliage ; operas fanning the senses with dramatic
music ; — all these things are no more sources
of delight to a man who has lost his trunk, than
if their graces were under the lock of the recep-
tacle which has gone, and whither the distracted
student of the beautiful cannot divine. A man
who has searched in vain to find his trunk cannot
make his presence agreeable to himself anywhere.
He may be proven to have lost his head, for he
has been forsaken by his senses, those busy rep-
resentatives, that, in their capitol, the brain, con-
duct the affairs of their nervous constituencies.
Whatever be the figure of this argument, or
though it belong to none of the series, the man
00 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
knows his desolate figure, and the barbarous mode
of his personaUty ; and if the terms be not duly
distributed, he believes that his valuables, includ-
mg letters dated at the heart, have been distrib-
uted to the four corners of the earth, and to thou-
sands of curious eyes.
But if the premises be doubtful, the Archbishop
of Dublin himself would allow the conclusion to
be conclusive, if his Grace ever lost a portfolio
in which was an Episcopal charge, which he had
carefully prepared for a special occasion, of which
he kept no copy, while his clergy, having waited
in vain for its wisdom and logic to be dispensed to
them, were at last compelled to accept a dispen-
sation in the Papal sense, excusing them from
A man of weak nerves would be annoyed by
arriving at the wharf just in season to see the
steamer, with his goods sent beforehand safely
on board, moving gracefully out of the bay, while
his frantic cries " Stop ! stop ! " drowned by the
cheers of the crowd, cannot retract a single revo-
lution of the wheels. He ^vould be even less
pleased to find, several hours after leaving port,
that his most important trunk had been left be-
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 87
hind. The consciousness of personal security
would be made by the loss of personal accompa-
niments to increase, rather than allay, his agita-
tion. Hence the general excitement about trunks
will not be censured, however much it may for a
time obstruct freedom of action, or damage indi-
viduality, which last is an admirable quality for a
hermitage, or for a rural retreat, but not for the
deck of a steamer bound for the Isthmus, or for
the hurrying world in general. Conglomeration
rules the day, and let it have a fair field, to show
its power for ill or for good, that men may return
to the old path, or adopt the more excellent way.
Probably none of the passengers are in peril of
the archiepiscopal difficulty, for though each trunk
may be the cause of as much commotion as any
one of the official charges or discharges of his
valiant Lordship, Henry of Exeter, it is not to
be supposed that the trunks hold any charges,
clerical or lay, beyond, it may be, in two or
three, a few small bills, which in the hurry of
departure there was no time to settle.
The revolutions of the wheels of a steamship
are examples of a kind of rotation in office, which,
besides being needful for efficient progress, are un-
OO THE DECK OF THE CRESCEXT CITY.
like some otlier modes of that operation, in sel-
dom causing bitter displeasure to any one, but
rather hearty complacency to all parties con-
cerned, though having some likeness in the way
in which it is sustained, which is by keeping
the steam well up, and by bringing all the forces
within reach to bear upon the main shaft, or the
main chance, as the case may be. Wheels are
also revolvers, which steamships hold out, right
and left, in fighting their way through the sea :
and these now revolve half around and then back,
ending their endeavors, like people whose activ-
ity of design excels firmness of will, in a mere
fuss of foam and commotion. The machinery
puffs and groans for its proper sphere of exertion,
like the energies of a statesman, who longs to be
kicking at foreign nations and at domestic ene-
mies, but who is restrained from such ministration
by the electoral chain of a want of votes ; if,
indeed, any thing so positive as a chain-cable can
be compared to an absolute negation. The state-
ly funnel towers over the ship with a kind of Sa-
tanic fascination, as if it would inspire some pre-
cipitate person to climb to the black summit of
the cylinder like a squirrel, and then to dive
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 89
down into its smoking recesses, merely to see
where, amongst the eompHcated machinery, his
" dark descent " w^ould be stopped, the adventurer
not thinking that his exploit might prove to be as
disastrous as an appeal to a Court of Equity, of
which it is generally true, that it is much easier
to get in than to get out.
The tones of bells have an apostolical character,
for their significance is so various, that they may
be said to become all things to all men, that they
may gain the ears of some. They express every
note in the gamut of human emotion, from the
low moan of despair to the high ecstasy of hope.
There are bells for births, for the house of mourn-
ing, and for the marriage-feast. Peels, knells, and
chimes proclaim the trinity of man's life on earth,
joy, sorrow, and devotion, for all men worship
something, and the object of their homage has
its proper music. There are bells that toll the
watches of the night, that usher in the dawn, that
announce every hour of the sun's march, and of
evening bells poetry is full. Bells declare victo-
ries, and the anniversaries of great deeds. There
are bells of terror, which signify fires, earth-
90 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
quakes, and the approaches of enemies ; Protes-
tant bells, that ring vehemently like perpetual
memorials of Luther's voice, and Catholic bells,
"which are seldom rung, but which are struck
incessantly, making glad the faithful and annoy-
ing the faithless ; glad and vociferous bells, which
proclaim the birth of an heir to an imperial crown,
and soft, deceptive bells, which give the signal
for Sicilian vespers ; bells that strike six of a
dark, icy morning in winter, irritating collegians,
and bells that strike one of a summer midnight,
to the meditative torture of Dr. Young, and to
the more lamentable torture of English verse in
the way of sentimental crudities, sickly fancies,
and the vagaries of spasmodic piety on stilts ;
bells that hurry travellers to the cars, and warn
deaf people to beware of the crossings of engines ;
bells that call passengers in a steamboat to the
captain's office to settle their fares, and more
pleasant bells which summon them to the table
for supper ; and bells like this one, advising
people who have come on board to take leave of
friends, that they will do wisely to retire soon, if
they wish not to find themselves on the way to
Chagres, with no preparations for crossing the
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 91
Isthmus in the rainy season, and with not even a
spurious ticket for the passage between Panama
and San Francisco. Farewells, attended by a
guard of good wishes and kind hopes, issue from
the lips ; and hands give and return an earnest
pressure. About the parting words may play an
almost merry liveliness, which proves sincerity
better than a studied endeavor to look suitably
sad, which usually succeeds in looking very un-
gracious and sour. Regret at losing the presence
of a friend may be blended with enjoyment of it,
growing more intense as every moment shortens
it, and the fervor of the spirit may be expressed
in this divided way ; or, to return to bells, as the
tones of a bell sound wonderfully pure, reach far,
and endure long, when a dampness pervades the
air, so pleasantries of speech, struck from hearts
moist with sensibility, ring clear and make music
long after in the ears of him that goes and of
him that stays ; and parting smiles are among the
brightest treasures of the memory, for they throw
over after hours a beautiful and cheering halo of
The last friend has walked the plank from the
deck to the pier ; the steam discharges bullets of
92 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
sound, which pierce the ears, and mingle with the
general concert of puffing, roaring, and shouting
noises ; the Avheels begin to revolve with more de-
termination : one is forced to consider the victo-
ries of the usurper, steam ; as, how many coaches
have run their last stage, and overturned their
impatient passengers into rapid cars ; how many
bluff and merry Saxon drivers have yielded place
to precise and polite Latin conductors ; how
neighboring States, unmindful of the Apostolic
precept, have diUgently rendered raihng for rail-
ing to secure Canadian trade, or for some other
purpose equally excellent ; in short, how fast the
world with all that it contains is coming under the
dominion of the Prince of the Power of the Air :
and one conjectures whether other kinds of con-
veyance may not soon be managed by steam,
whether real estates, which have been ahenated
sometimes by the fumes of alcohol, may not be
conveyed by steam proper, in which case they
would not be perplexed with a long retinue of
contingent remainders ; for steam never has any
contingent remainders, except when two trains of
cars, going at the rate of fifty miles an hour, sud-
denly meet on the same track, to shake hands
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 93
and ask the price of stocks. If there be any
niche in the Temple of Invention yet unoccupied,
it must be in reserre for the blessed individual
who shall successfully apply steam to suits in
chancery, so that an estate may pass through
that long tract of country, without being detained
too long in the green pastures of luxurious fees,
or being locked up for too many years in the
terrible dungeons of a snivelling chancellor's
The steamer being now on the point of depart-
ure, while hats, hands, and handkerchiefs wave
together in the air, a young man, of commanding
figure and of bold but not unbecoming manners, a
"• Bowery boy," stands upon the upper deck at the
stern of the ship, beneath the floating banner of
his country. Waving first his hat and then his
handkerchief, he addresses the people on shore
with a loud and searching voice. His precise
words cannot be reported, but there is no doubt
that they were of the following import.
" Fellow-citizens, we are bound for Cahfornia,
where there is gold enough and plenty of it. But
we are not going altogether for that. We hope
to enjoy ourselves in a new country. Still, for
94 THE DECK or THE CRESCENT CITY.
my part, I am willing to say, that I mean to re-
turn to New York with the biggest piece of what
was once Mexico that I can dig out of the earth,
carry in my hat to the shore (hat in my hand,
my good friends), and bring home in my trunk. I
assure you, my particular friends, as you all are,
that I have no harder wish for any of you than
that you may all come out in the next steamer,
and do the same likewise. Fellow-citizens, it is
peculiarly proper to consider at such a time as
this the glory of our country. No nation now on
earth holds her head so high as ours, and no one
has so good a right to do so. Two wars, the
Crystal Palace, and Colhns's line, have proved to
the satisfaction of every body, that we have now
beaten England and the rest of mankind in all the
elements, — land, water, steam, and machinery.
Now, fellow-citizens, the golden rule of our re-
publican system is, as you have all been instruct-
ed from childhood, that we should do honor to
those who do honor to us. That is Republican-
ism, or it is nothing, and our history will show
that, in all cases, this rule has been invariably
obeyed. The fact is, that for our country to
honor those who honor her is one of our great and
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 95
glorious and free institutions, which we are bound
to respect, love, cherish, and obey till death us do
part, and so forth, as the Westminster Catechism
says. That being the case, suffer me to make a
suggestion. We all hope, of course, that the
prince of exhibitors, before he closes his show for
the last time (and long may it be before he does),
— I thank j^ou for applauding that sentiment, —
we all hope, that he will be the governor of his
inventive commonwealth. Let me also advise that
the contriver of the famous yacht be chosen Pres-
ident by the unanimous vote of the people ; and
let the inventor of the reaping-machine, who de-
serves, as all admit, a first-rate place in the hearts
of every body, let him be President of the Senate.
He would gather the grain of public afiairs, and
sift it, to some purpose. Let the man who picked
Braham's locks decide questions of order as
Speaker of the House ; and, finally, let the in-
ventor of six-barrelled revolvers be Secretary of
State. Our country couM then face her enemies
and go ahead with a will. I am told that the
picker of locks is a Boston boy, and my literary
friends — of whom I am happy to say that I have
a large number — assure me that the genius of
96 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
the place, as it is called in some old-fasliioned
language or other, is so marked, that
Boston young women, on the verge of twenty,
Having of sciences a fearful jlilenty,
The mystic stores of German lore expanding,
Can pick the Locke on Human Understanding,
and make it worthless in five minutes.
" But let me not wander from my subject, lest
I err as much as a reverend scholar might do,
who, in addressing a Uterary society on the
American Mind, should discourse at length upon
Wat Tyler's rebellion, when a few brief remarks
upon President John Tyler's administration would
be more directly to the point. What has Wat
Tyler ever done to develop the American Mind ?
He never annexed Texas, or, as the result of that,
the Pacific Ocean. To return, fellow-citizens, let
me again exhort you to follow our example, and
join our enterprise as soon as you can conven-
iently, and sooner, if possible ; but at any rate,
wherever we go or wherever we stay, whatever
we do or whatever we don't do, let us never for-
get to remember the American flag and the Amer-
ican eagle ; and may the first see more and more
THE DECK OF THE CRESCEXT CITY. 97
stars, every year, and the last grow larger and
larger, and his eyes brighter, and his claws
sharper, and his shout louder, as long as we live,
and for a long time afterwards. The greatest
man that ever lived is reported to have said at
Cambridge, when the Yankee College there made
him a Doctor of Laws, for his skilful surgery
upon the body politic, and by way of diplomatic
sanction for his doing more of the same sort, — this
man, in acknowledging the degree conferred upon
him, as it is said, using the same energy of voice
with which he declared that the deposits should be-
removed from the jaws of the Monster, spoke as
follows : ' E pluribus unum. Palmam qui meruit
ferat. Pro bono publico. Amen.' These affecting,
original, and patriotic remarks are said to be pros-
pectively prophetical, and to mean, as I am told
by people who understand the English language
when expressed in Latin words, that this whole
continent belongs to us, by right, desert, and the
general welfare, and that the sooner we have it
in our power in any way, but the best way if we
can, the better it will be for all the parties con-
cerned. Fellow-citizens, in bidding you good by,
until we meet again, allow me to observe that the
\)o THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
sentiment quoted was not only a good, Christian
sentiment, that deserved an Amen, but also a
patriotic one, entitled to three cheers."
As the steamer began to move forward, before
these last words had fairly left the lips of the
speaker, the cheers which heartily arose from the
ship and the pier may have been the exchange of
spontaneous good-will between the passengers and
spectators generally, and not a special answer to
the ingenious thought which closed the harangue.
The speaker, seeing his audience fast receding
from him, joined vociferously in the cheers,
again waving his hat and handkerchief by turns.
At last he put his hat on his head and his hand-
kerchief in his pocket ; but had he reversed this
order, he would not have acted altogether without
that first requisite for scrupulous men, — a pre-
cedent ; for, not long ago, the heir of the an-
cient and noble house of Derby, in ascending the
Andes, at the worst season of the year, and
quicker than was ever known before, except by a
special express in times of revolution, as if the
injunction, " On, Stanley, on ! " directly referred
to himself, this gentleman, who, if ever called to
share in the government of his country, cannot
THE DECK OF THE CEESCEXT CITY. 99
be blamed for official neglect, if he shall con-
duct public afiairs with the same expedition and
strength which he showed in that surprising
journey, — this young, manly, and enterprising
statesman, finding the wind to be very boisterous
in the passage of Chimborazo, making his hat
unmanageable, put it in his pocket ; so that, if the
Bowery boy had done the same, he would have
followed an illustrious example ; but, with a due
regard for final causes, he put it upon his head,
and then looked about him with an air of re-
served energy and decision, as if bent upon ad-
vancing the greatness and glory of his country by
every way in his power, and, on his private ac-
count, of despatching any one who should dare to
insult him upon that never more than ten days'
journey to obscurity, commonly called sending a
man into the middle of next week, — a mode of
propulsion, however, which, it is said upon good
scientific authority, would distract all the doctors
and students of a Dutch university for seventy-
two successive hours, in arguing that by the sci-
ence of dynamics no such thing could be done.
Among the crowd of cheering spectators may
be some relatives, who count with rapture upon
100 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
the affluence of returning fathers, sons, brothers,
or cousins ; and, in some cases, there may be an
incipient jealousy, consistent with kind wishes, lest
departing ones may return so glorified and exalted
by Californian success, as to eclipse the less splen-
did efforts of others. There may be a ground for
such good-natured jealousy,
For there is seldom known at once to be
More than one lion in a family.
Fears and hopes, tears and smiles, faithful affec-
tions and fervent blessings, may lie underneath
the uproar of those who have come from curiosity
mainly to see another steamship depart for Cha-
The day is bright ; and thus favored by a pleas-
ant sky, and by loud and hearty benedictions, the
steamer proceeds ; the people on shore watch
eagerly the graceful motion seaward of the noble
vessel ; and the passengers, standing upon the up-
per deck, look no less intently upon the receding
city. Hardly a mile has been passed over, when
the wheels suddenly cease to revolve; and, to
the general amazement, anchor is dropped about
two thousand miles from the place where it might
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 101
have been thought, five minutes before, that it
Tvould strike its flukes into the ground. The pas-
sengers are with good reason confounded. Those
who are strangers from the country may be less
confounded than the rest, from thinking that the
rushing chain at the bows may be simply a part
of the machinery ; and so it is, but not of the
motive kind. The clerk soon appears upon deck,
and in the cabins, politely informing passengers
that they can go ashore until the next morning,
as some portion of the machinery labors, and
needs to be set right.
The ship had been performing the nautical
gymnastics, called pausing on the centre, which
means, that, instead of moving on her way with
even tenor, she stopped to take breath at every
revolution of the wheels, before taking another
leap forward into the waves, a movement well
enough for those who like it, when the sea is
smooth, but suggestive of nervous apprehensions
in a furious gale ; for should a steamship, at such
a time, when crossing two huge billows, pause too
long on the centre, the whole establishment might
suddenly divide, leaving the captain, oflScers, pas-
sengers, crew, and all hands generally, to go in
102 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
different directions, and neither of them towards
Chagres, or any place inhabited by living men,
and with but one engine between them, and that
going down as fast as it can, to pause upon the
centre of gravitation for some ages, perhaps to
aid in convoying some of the ships, which, like
spirits that once breathed the upper air, move in
silent, dreary circles on the black, breathless,
waveless deep, while their spectral crews keep
their unbroken watch below\
This accident not only detains the ship, but
forces the narration itself to cast anchor, and the
reflections upon the beautiful bay of New York
are of course deferred to a more convenient occa-
sion. But a writer's purpose should overcome
harder mischances than this, for, if all the intimi-
dations of literary history cannot turn him aside,
he ought not to mind being so suddenly brought
to a stand. Let not this unlooked for and per-
plexing detention cause longer delay than is need-
ful to decide what can be done. The passengers
have nearly all obeyed the clerk's polite invitation
to go ashore, and the city, seen to be surrounded
by the tall masts of ships, suggests the use of
those convenient contrivances as figures of speech,
THE DECK OF THE CRESCEXT CITY. 103
in which respect they have been of good service,
since timber was first made to float ; for the Ark,
of blessed memory, not only saved what was
worth saving at an important period of human
history, but a timely resort to it as a figure of
speech has saved many an orator from metaphor-
ical drowning, at a rhetorical crisis.
The city is a sea of lives freighted
In transient vessels to make voyages
From time's decaying shore to those vast ports
Where all arrivers find fast anchorage.
To that strange land, whose capes reach out so
That some barks gain their destination soon,
While the deep bays withdraw their shelving sands
So far inland, that others press the sea,
Ere they are harbored, more than fourscore years.
Launched on the wave of life the little boat
Moves tremulous, as though a ruder touch
Of the new billows would break up its frame ;
Full oft it does ; and then the tender frigate
Launches, in turn, the memory of its voyage
Upon a flood of tears ; or, if more blest,
Or less, for this no foresight can resolve,
104 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
The bark shall conquer the great, breaking sea,
Expanding shapely comeliness it glides
Before the vigorous pressure of the wind.
Which breathes odorous sweetness from the banks,
Where youth and hope their bowers of beauty build.
Thus may two ships, one more by vigor marked,
And the other more by gracefulness of form.
From diverse ports proceeding, near approach
Each other, wafted by the generous gale
Of love reciprocal, thence on life's course
To advance through storm or sunshine, side by
Until one strikes upon the mystic shore.
Whence can no mortal keel remove, and then
The one deprived in loneliness goes on,
Until it gains the limit of its course.
These voyagers are variously equipped
For their swift courses on existence' sea ;
Some, spreading sunny sails of texture strong,
Court the affluent winds, and move o'er shining
That feel exhilarating airs alone.
While each sail met bends in sweet courtesy
To these fine ships, so bounteously supplied
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 105
With every cabin luxury of life ;
Others, with canvas torn, meagre, too thin
For stress of storms, prevail not on the breezes
To waft them kindly on, but are exposed
To cruel, shifting gales, which swell the sea,
Until it beats and roars ; o'er billows hard
They wander, roughly pushed, appointed ill,
Neglected, unsaluted, and condemned
To stifle want with short allowances
And musty bread.
Some are of timbers old.
Battered by storms, made tough by service hard,
Oft bending to the gale, yet not o'erthrown,
In gentle weather easy and benign.
Of stiff resistance in dark peril's hour ;
Others no strain have felt of tempests rough.
And, in smooth waters gliding, can maintain
An amiable mien, enchanting all
To see them bear so gracefully along
So much delight and love ; yet broken ships
With tattered sails there are, which grieve the
And yet which would as amiable appear
As any that adorn life's pleasant sea.
If they had not had conflicts rude to bear
106 THE DECK OF THE CRESCEXT CITY.
With angry skies, sharp hghtnings, and the host
Of troubles that molest the human heart.
When airs are balmy, and the seas are smooth.
It easy is to be of nature sweet
That is alone true amiability,
Which stands the test of penury and pain.
See others fluttering with bright streamers gay,
Making of life a constant holiday.
Some lend to others prompt, becoming aid,
In times of sorrow and of utmost need,
"With wholesome plenty filling scant supplies.
Lending new sails, or stopping dismal leaks
Of poverty or wrong ; others with scorn.
Provided well themselves, pass swiftly by
Their broken neighbors, taking notice none.
Or with bland, simpering words that nothing mean,
And less bring forth, answ^ering their conscience'
Another, far from helping in distress.
Withholding e'en cheap verbal comfort, looks
With eager sight, where'er a tidy ship
With a good cargo laden homeward speeds.
And then, making quick sail, bears down at once
Upon the modest bark, and breaks it up,
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 107
And, the good cargo shifting to its hold.
Leaves the poor injured ship to sink or float
O'er wayward waves, the toil of patient years
Lost in collision with rich insolence,
And earninors small o:one to increase the wealth
Of one who should have spared, not taken more ;
And then, the haughty vessel sailing on.
As it beholds another like itself,
Congratulating signals gives and takes
For the shrewd deed, as though it were as good
As an archangel would rejoice to do.
And not such as should make a devil blush.
Look also on those ships, famed for exploits
On war's rough ocean, or on smoother waves
Of policy. How gracefully upon their course.
Lined with great throngs of cheering sails, they
Bending complacent bows to all around.
But most complacent ones to those dear crafts,
That cast for anchors votes.
Still other ships,
Manned by the loving goodnesses of hfe.
Make it their aim to go in search of wrecks ;
And many wrecks there are, to move the heart, —
The wrecks of hope, pondering in still despair,
108 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
The wrecks of wealth and shattered competence,
Injustice suffering or the wages hard
Of former arrogance in plenteous days,
The wrecks of health, weak, shapeless, and forlorn,
The wrecks of honor, firm no more and true.
Leaving the straight course of integrity.
The wrecks of mind, wandering they know not
By winds disordered on disordered seas.
With compass all distracted in its points.
The wrecks of love sincere, but cast aside
By those unworthy of its blessedness,
Gloving disconsolate in disarray
With aimless fancies upon aimless waves.
On billows glaring with deceptive light
Are found the saddest wrecks of all, the wrecks
Of rosy beauty turned to ruddy shame,
And whitening then to die.
Whene'er these barks
Reach where on stormy waves these wrecks are
The careful watch on deck the signal give.
And instantly with charity's commotion
Are all on board alive ; the boats let down,
Furnished with ready succor, briefly wait,
THE DECK OE THE CRESCENT CITY. 109
And the eager crew need no command to press
Where the wreck struggles in complete distress,
Which, when they reach, with hastening hands
To bend new sails, to bind the splintered spars,
To stop the yawning leaks or ply the pumps,
To fix the unhinged rudder, or to set
The mind's chronometer that leads astray.
Or to supply celestial quadrants good.
Which, through the lenses strong of faith and
Enable human souls to see how high
The Sun of grace has risen on their course ;
To famished inmates is provided food ;
The broken ships to harbors snug are led.
Until again ready to plough the sea.
With best directions from the heavenly chart.
Or to abide secure till reason's ray
Shall shine again, when breaks immortal day.
After such offices of good are done.
The charitable ones in silence go
Back to their ships, chartered by love sincere,
Freighted with blessings, wafted by the gales
Which blow directly from the pearly gate
Of Paradise upon man's suffering state.
110 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
See at its final port a ship arrive,
After long wrestling with the storms of life ;
The shrouds and braces where the tempest howled
Are now transformed to chords where music
Of heavenly origin, which soothes and cheers
The last, declining period of the voyage ;
The faithful anchor hangs upon the bows,
A refuge oft before from drifting winds.
And ready to hold fast the stately bark,
When it has reached the narrow strand that severs
Time from Eternity, that it may stand
Fearless in that dread hour of mortal change,
Until the angelic lighter from the shore
Of endless time draws near to take the freight.
And store it in the treasury of God.
For every mortal vessel bears a freight
Precious indeed, which cost a Prince's life
To save it from destruction ; this gem divine,
With fadeless life endowed, burnished with care
By the celestial graver's patient skill,
Changes the grossness of its human stains
For the far-shining beauty of the skies ;
But, ere this end be reached, hard discipHne
The costly jewel needs ; and many a stroke
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. Ill
To it is given, which seems as it would break,
Not cleanse, the gem, yet, w^hen the dust of grief
Is by the graver gently breathed away,
Where were the strokes most hard and frequent,
Are left the brightest places in the gem.
This rich freight incorruptible is borne
To its sure house of shelter, wiiile is left
The hulk behind, victim of quick decay,
Till, by a w^ord, transformed in every part,
With amaranthine signals, from its bows
And floating at the peak, the spirit-ship,
Again receiving its resplendent freight.
With pure, white sails of heavenly love and joy,
Soft, fragrant breezes from the blessed isles,
And frame constructed of the Tree of life.
Shall glide serenely with immortal pace
O'er crystal seas of glory and of grace.
On the next morning the Crescent City is not
yet in order to go, or the rest of Sunday is re-
spected, that she may begin her voyage w^ith the
secular week. A fresh October wind, coming a
month before its time, has cleared the air, the
waters of the bay are beautifully bright, and
112 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
every thing about looks calm and peaceful, as
becomes the hallowed season.
The holy concord of religious bells
Now through the city sounds, calling to prayer.
Each spire and tower becomes a beacon, where
The sentinel in brazen armor clad,
Catching the signal from his neighbor's tongue.
Bears with his own the sacred message on,
To summon men to gain by humble prayer
Strength to resist their spiritual foes.
The various temples w^here dismembered Truth
Sighs for recovery of its lost estate
Of unity on earth, receive the throngs
Who heed the summons of the sacred day,
While greater throngs disdain the blessed sound.
In consecrated structures there is heard
The language old, in which were heralded
The orders which the subject world obeyed.
But which, transferred to Christian usages
And redolent of saintly fragrances
Of centuries, and of as many fears
And woes and wrongs, in holy anthems rolls,
While are some faithful souls borne on their course
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 113
Towards heavenly crowns in Roman chariots.
The liturgies that nerve the Saxon tongue
With words of grace there bend and lift by turns
The waiting heart, memorials dear of her
Enthroned where Thames and cultured Isis
The world's best shrine in days of doubt and
And the chief germ divine, from which shall
The Empire-Church to rule and bless the earth,
Crowned now with beauty, as when sighing Faith,
From the corrupt Ark flying, sought and found
Within her shades the olive-yards of rest.
Yet whate'er shapes sincere devotion takes.
If from hearts lowly coming, prayers ascend
As an angelic concourse to the skies.
And find a hearing at God's ready throne.
The humblest head that bows itself unseen
May from its lips send messengers of prayer,
Which upward speed upon their hallowed flight,
Like the swift beams of the Sun's eastern light ;
While many a full response, sonorous, clear.
May fail to reach the Almighty's open ear.
114 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
So this invisible and suppliant throng
Rise up together towards heaven's pearly gate.
If any are more buoyant than the rest.
They may be those that issue from the hearts
Of weather-beaten mariners in port,
Wlio in the floating chapel bend the knee,
While the soft undulation of the sea
Answers to the liturgic waves within
Of praise and supplication ; and if any
Slower ascend, they may be some that rise
From marble walls, by imitative spires.
Too much encumbered to spring up with ease.
Stiff w^ith brocade, laden with gems and gold.
See, from the tallest spire the sacred Cross
Glows in the sun, projected on the sky
Like the blest sign that greeted Constantine,
Telling to men of Him who died thereon.
To make by pains and tears a path to heaven.
While rival empires hasten to decay.
And pales the wisdom sages teach and learn,
One sentence still shall far outshine the day,
And faintino; men to livino!; waters turn :
" Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away
The world's sin " ; no brave conqueror's flashing
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 115
No armies, navies, no strong castle's might,
Such hope and help to weary souls afford
As gleam and guide from out those words of light.
They surest mount to reach the eternal skies.
Who humblest learn how low on earth they are ;
They first behold the glorious Sun arise.
Who keep the vigils of the eastern star.
After the shadows of Sunday have deepened
into night, and that again, hours ago, has retreat-
ed before the dawn of Monday, which ushers the
world upon its busy race, boats are seen hastening
from the Battery with passengers, to challenge
the ship to stay no longer at her anchorage. The
preparations at last are over, and she breathes
more freely from her iron lungs, those stout respi-
rators, that bear any climate and any wind, and
which are less likely to suffer a fatal congestion
in the chilly North and East, than between the
flowery banks of the Mississippi. The anchor
obeys the persuasive chain, that draws it hastily
and gayly from its place of rest, and the '' Cres-
cent City," upon the imaginary deck of which
these foregoing speculations have been made,
springs upon her course, while more practical
116 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
Speculations, as the world will deem them, float
busily in many minds. It is the first part of Sep-
tember, and the islands near by are yet bright
and green with the lingering loveliness of summer ;
mansions border the waters, or rise upon gentle
heights ; open fields glisten with verdure ; towns
grow into cities wellnigh as fast as the harvest
ripens from the seed ; institutions of charity are
built upon fair and salubrious spots, as though
the sight and health of the poor were not to be
disregarded ; establishments by the water-side af-
ford relief for sojourners from the city's dust and
heat; ships arrive laden with cargoes from all
lands and with living crowds from the Old World's
destitution, or go forth with full and eager sails
for ports in distant seas; the substantial light-
ship, the blessing of the coast, sways at her fast
anchorage, ready to guide and delight the mariner,
as he approaches home, and not to be passed with-
out a benediction, by day or by night, and wheth-
er kissed by the breezes of summer, or bleached
by the mantles of winter. Groups of people
watch the progress of the ship, and with voices
and hands signify their interest and pleasure.
No signs of lordly splendor meet the sight, and
THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY. 117
the bays of Italy may be spanned by serener
skies, yet the bay of New York is among the
glories of the globe. Nature for three seasons is
beautiful, and even winter, beneath the clear cold
and sunlight, assumes an ermine softness set off
Avith diamond briUiancy. Proofs of thrift and
care are upon every side, as though all were
agreed to make the land a paradise of industry.
The criminal, shut out from the sympathies of dai-
ly life, is not denied the invigorating breeze, and
a view of the broad sky. And those whose gates
of reason are closed, to whom the melodies of
nature are discords, and the land and the sea
without order and beauty, may summon their army
of fantastic images in a pure air, and may array
in incongruous shapes the clouds and the stars ;
the moving ship may be at times as pleasing an
object in their discordant world as it is in this,
and the sight and sound of active humanity may
revive happy glimpses of memory, and move the
heart with natural gladness, though at long inter-
vals only between mournful periods of vacancy
and gloom ; sometimes the bird, singing from
island to island, may strike an answering note in
their discordant minds, and touch, though but for
118 THE DECK OF THE CRESCENT CITY.
an instant, the disused keys of sane thought and
emotion, which were wont, in other days, to send
music through the recesses of the soul.
The city is hidden from view, the Kghthouses
are passed, and the land grows slowly dim in the
distance ; for not even the power of steam can
avail to leave it so soon behind as not to permit
many a look upon lessening shapes and dissolving
colors. God bless the voyage !
To page 37. Mr. Newman, in a note to one of his powerful
and, in many points, admirable " Sermons on Subjects of the
Day," spoke as follows of the then recent establishment of
the Episcopate at Jerusalem by united England and Prussia :
^' May that measure utterly fail and come to naught, and be
as though it had never been ! " May the reverend head of the
Catholic University of Ireland live to be endowed, besides
his rare mental gifts, with a spirit of deeper insight, so as to
see the divine capacities of the Church which he has forsaken,
and to '• bless and curse not " the most enlightened and mo-
mentous Christian act of this age, as it may be acknowledged
by all to be, when the humble missionary station becomes the
metropolitan throne of reformed and united Christendom.
To page .58. If this concluding sentence should seem to
require a complement, it may be in point to say, that, should
there ever be another Shakspeare, and should he describe
another Hamlet, he might Avith poetical justice represent him
as a man of intellectual aspiiations pent up somewliere in the
New World, surrounded by its array of influences unfavorable
to mental freedom, close by a steam-engine, engaged night and
day in making " patent double-million magnifyin' gas micro-
scopes of hextra power " for a " great country " to see its mar-
vellous perfections through, or near a University, compensat-
ing for being profoundly obsequious towards 'writers from
abroad of acknovvledged worth and power, by being in the
main equally derisive towards those at its side, who persist in
intellectual aims, in the face of such partial countenance. The
stupid Polonius, whether a royal or an academical councillor,
whether an adept in the fine phrases of his mother-tongue or of
a dead language, will ever regard as insane vagaries the strug-
gles of an imprisoned spirit panting for light and air Ameri-
ca deliberately poisons the graces and sublimities of life, to en-
joy without reserve the lust of power and the embraces of inate-
rial good ; and while her murderous disposition remains, she
has no right to be surprised, if those of her sons who resist the
tide that would drag them from high designs to the miry waters
of an immature and unnatural civilization, feel that they are
unjustly disregarded, and sometimes find their loyalty, which
they would like to cherish, changing, despite their will and
effort, from a hearty sentiment to one of duty and accident
alone. The love of country is correlative. A false measure
of civilization must of course be superseded in due time, at
whatever risk of convulsion ; and in the hour of peril, entreaty
may take the place of disdain. Mental immunities cannot be
outraged and set at naught for ever, and they usually find a
defender, when the time is ripe. The filial spirit of man will,
sooner or later, heed the visitation, which in the white robes of
eternity, and in " the majesty of buried " truth and beauty,
with armor of celestial steel and arrows pointed with celestial
fire, requires, in a plaintive but immortal voice, the vindication,
at any hazard, of the rights of the soul. The shackles of a
material dispensation may for a while depress, but they cannot
destroy the undying life, which, though pining and withering in
its bondage, must one day awake and turn the cheeks of scorn-
ers pale, and their sneers into cries for mercy. Empires hare
been established by the sword, in the place of decayed dynas-
ties ; the pen may prove to be equally mighty in dethroning
To page 87. It would not be fair thus to allude to the ec-
centric energy of the Bishop of Exeter, without adding a word
of cordial praise for his zeal in behalf of the organic prerogatives
of the Church of England. May that Church have the grace
to heed the summons of the familiar hymn, which could not
be more appropriate, had it been expressly written as an appeal
to revive the rights of Convocation ; and may the hope be
none the less significant for coming from the capital of Puri-
tan polity !
" Triumphant Zion ! lift thy head
From dust and darkness, and the dead ;
Though humbled long, awake at length,
And gird thee with thy Saviour's strength.
'' Put all thy beauteous garments on,
And let ihy excellence be known ;
Decked in ihe rol)es of righieonsness,
The world thy glories shall confess.
" No more shall foes unclean invade,
And fill thy hallowed walls with dread:
No more shall hell's insulting host
Their victory and thy sorrows boast.
" God from on high has heard thy prayer;
His hand thy ruin shall repair ;
Nor will thy watchful Monarch cease
To guard thee in eternal peace."